Patterico's Pontifications


Nadler Says NSA Not Exercising Breathtaking Powers After All, Or, Maybe Snowden Is Wrong!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 am

Over the weekend I published a post noting that, according to a CNET article, Jerrold Nadler had essentially confirmed the worst about the NSA surveillance: individual agents were actually listening to calls based on an analyst’s say-so, and not based on a court order.

Now it appears that the CNET article was misleading. Nadler tells BuzzFeed: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.” Standard backtracking? You’d think so, but as
this Atlantic Wire piece explains, Nadler’s original claim was publicly made in an exchange with Robert Mueller, and the full video and transcript reveal that Nadler apparently interpreted “specific information” as meaning content when in fact it means metadata:

We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that and you didn’t need a new warrant.

Apparently Nadler interpreted this as an analyst listening to calls — but saying the analyst can get “specific information from that telephone” does not necessarily equate to “listening to calls.”

Back and forth goes the ping pong ball on how concerned we should be.

Meanwhile, don’t miss my exclusive from over the weekend suggesting the possibility (admittedly speculative at this point) that Snowden may be meeting his girlfriend in China or Hong Kong. The piece, which contains pictures of the girlfriend in various stages of undress for Important Journalistic Purposes, possibly helps explain why Snowden went to China. I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more traction.

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