It’s clear by now that the NSA’s goal is to achieve total information awareness. I think that’s understandable, in a way. It’s basically their job to figure out how to eavesdrop on everything, always, with only some slim statutory carve-outs protecting the privacy of American citizens. I think it’s up to Congress to decide how much is enough, because the NSA isn’t going to restrain themselves. In the absence of being (very) specifically prohibited from gathering certain kinds of information, they will make every effort to gather it.
It goes without saying that if the NSA records every single phone call in a country for an entire month, that they will be able to utilize that information retrospectively to gather intelligence about new targets. So, they’ve built that capability for at least one (unnamed) country. Should they be allowed to keep it?
Can they keep the capability on the shelf, unused, in preparation for an actual declared war?
The surveillance level has grown to a ridiculous level, and some boundaries need to be created. Not to mention two more things:
1) I hope the country wasn’t Russia, because we shouldn’t be surprised by anything a country does if we’re listening to every single one of their phone calls, and
2) Can you imagine how much the world hates the idea that they can’t use their phones without our government potentially recording everything they have to say?
All this, and they still can’t find that damn airplane.