News / USA

Report: US Phone Data Collection Didn't Prevent Terrorism

An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland. An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
x
An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
VOA News
A new study has concluded that the massive collection of phone data by the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency "has had no discernible impact" on preventing terrorism.

A Washington research group, the New America Foundation, said Monday it studied the investigations of 225 people linked in some way to terrorism in the United States since the deadly September 11th attacks and concluded NSA phone surveillance only played a key role in one instance.

The report said the only piece of NSA phone data that had a clear role in initiating an investigation involved a cab driver in San Diego, California, who was convicted of sending $8,500 to al-Qaida's Somali affiliate in 2007 and 2008.

The New America Foundation said NSA surveillance may have played a role in other investigations, but about 60 percent of the probes stemmed from traditional investigative methods, such as tips from from a family member or informant, or a report of suspicious activity.

The report's conclusion mirrors that of a White House-appointed review that concluded in December that the NSA's collection of millions of records of calls made by Americans "was not essential to preventing attacks."

The separate reports come as President Barack Obama plans to announce Friday whether he will curb NSA surveillance programs, including the phone data collection and monitoring of calls made by foreign leaders.

For several years, the NSA has accumulated records of the numbers called by Americans, the dates and lengths of the calls, but not their content, in an effort to stop new terrorist attacks. When this practice was first revealed last year, NSA director General Keith Alexander defended the data collection, saying it had helped prevent more than 50 potential terrorist attacks in 20 countries around the world.

The scope of the NSA's spying has become evident in recent months through leaks from former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA says he stole 1.7 million documents while stationed at an NSA outpost on the Pacific island state of Hawaii. He is now living in asylum in Russia even as American authorities seek his extradition to stand trial in the United States on espionage charges.

Two U.S. judges have issued rulings in separate cases seeking to end the phone data collection. One upheld the program and the other said it likely violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against illegal searches.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid