Advisory panel says NSA surveillance program should be ended / NBC

A second official advisory panel tells the government its NSA bulk collection of data is illegal and furthermore, has shown no benefit in fighting terrorism.  From NBC:

A government advisory panel said Thursday that the bulk data collection program run by the National Security Agency is illegal and should be halted.  

Recommendations by the bipartisan Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by Congress last decade with a mandate to conduct oversight and recommendations to preserve individual liberty, are sure to inflame the ongoing debate over the National Security Agency and its surveillance practices.  

Full text of the report (.pdf) 

Among the findings of the panel:

  • Section 215 the Patriot Act “does not provide an adequate legal basis” to support the NSA’s collection of records of telephone calls, branding the practice illegal in the panel’s view.
  • The NSA program violates a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which prohibits telephone companies from giving customer records to the government except in response to a specific search warrant. 
  • The data collection done under the Section 215 program “has shown minimal value in safeguarding the nation from terrorism.” The board members said that based on the classified briefings and documents they received, “we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
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