While Inglis conceded in his NPR interview that at most one terrorist attack might have been foiled by NSA’s bulk collection of all American phone data – a case in San Diego that involved a money transfer from four men to al-Shabaab in Somalia – he described it as an “insurance policy” against future acts of terrorism.
“I'm not going to give that insurance policy up, because it's a necessary component to cover a seam that I can't otherwise cover,” Inglis said.
This post has been going around because it seems very damning on the surface.
The NSA is best thought of as a tool, and while their one tool may not build you the entire structure, it may be a vital tool. If you really believe that all the NSA data collection programs has only foiled one terrorist attack then what you are saying is that big data is pretty useless.
I think that's far from the truth. More likely The NSA can only tie one specific foiled attack directly to NSA help, everywhere else the help was just help and not the end solution. I'd still like the program gone, but that doesn't mean I don't think it helps at all. I just think the cost of that help is far too high.