When the scandals surrounding the NSA collection of Americans’ telephone data emerged, the administration defended it with repeated claims that they had disrupted 54 terrorist plots thanks to their constant spying on your telephone calls.
But they “weren’t all plots and they weren’t all foiled,”
That’s the punchline today from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, at which chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D – VT) pushed heavily for details and revealed that the claims were wildly misleading, at best.
Leahy first got NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander to admit that of the 54 putative plots, only 13 had anything to do with the United States, and on additional questioning he conceded that the program had only actually foiled one, or “perhaps two” plots from the surveillance.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper defended the program, saying that actual data on real plots foiled was not an important metric to gauge success, and that the broad surveillance of the entire human race also provided “peace of mind.” Yet if Clapper truly believed this, one would think he wouldn’t have pushed the mythic “54 plot” claim so hard.