27 million . . . what?

In the “thank you for mindless statistics” category, we have this winner.

At the end of 2006, the FBI’s Telecommunications Intercept and Collection Technology Unit compiled an end-of-the-year report touting its accomplishments to management, a report that was recently unearthed via an open government request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Strikingly, the report said that the FBI’s software for recording telephone surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists intercepted 27,728,675 sessions.

Twenty-seven million is a staggering number given that the FBI only got 2,176 FISA court orders in 2006 from a secret spy court using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

If you think wiretapping is A Good Thing, this is probably reassuring. Those terrists are too busy yakkin on the phone to do their evil deeds. If you think wiretapping as it is currently being done is on tenuous legal ground – you have to wonder: have we changed the definition of terrorist, just like torture? (We do not torture; therefore, if we do it, it’s not torture. What’s your problem?) New definition: It’s okay to watch anyone who’s a terrorist suspect; therefore, everyone we watch is a terrorist suspect. QED.


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