That is probably a literally true statement that they had no way of knowing how many. NowadaysThe British paper the Guardian has just published a story on the NSA's "Boundless Informant" program. Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data | World news | guardian.co.uk. This system quantifies the number of intercepts by region down to the IP address and presents them in a map interface.
Even more interesting, it looks like DNI Clapper and NSA Director, General Alexander, lied through their teeth when they told congress they had no way of knowing how many American had their data swept up by Prism and the phone records collection program. Hell they could have drilled down to the Congressmen's districts and given them hard numbers. Both of them should be held in Contempt of Congress and then prosecuted and jailed. The chance of that happening is nil unless a real Constitutionalist becomes President.
Funny story, the other night I was watching with my wife a video of Clapper's testimony where he was answering the question from the Committee about not knowing and not having the technology to find out how many innocent American's records were being swept up into the NSA data warehouse. Looking at his body language and watching the way he covered his mouth when he answered, I told my wife that he was obviously lying. You'd think that given the mission of the DNI to lie to Congress, someone in the intell community would have taught him how to do it effectively.
between folks having multiple lines, having land and cell systems, using various VOI systems, using several
web based e-mail accounts plus Facebook and similar, they
could at best take a guess that the number of communications and communications devices scooped up is some
multiple of the population minus children under 10 maybe.
I'm not troubled at all by what was done. I am troubled by the track record of the FISA court which apparently
almost never rejects a request for a warrant. This is troubling in two opposite ways. 1) there might really be
that many folks who the authorities have gathered probable cause for the warrant on; 2) the FISA court might
actually be just a rubber stamp. We ordinary mortals have no way of knowing if either is the case or if something in-between
is the case.
Meanwhile, back in the land of reality, none of my friends have disappeared. None of my relatives have
disappeared. No one has raided my house, served me papers, and learned anything about me
that I wouldn't gladly tell them if they simply asked.
Don't misunderstand. We have a problem. Congress needs to fix it, as they caused it-- even if it was a different
bunch of people then serving.