The Obama administration has issued a White Paper defending bulk telephone metadata collection within the United States by the National Security Agency (NSA). The paper is far from convincing about the need for bulk metadata collection.
The argument for bulk metadata collection turns on the interpretation of the word “relevance.” It fails reason why all of US telephone metadata is “relevant” ex ante to any investigation of a foreign terrorist source telephone number (or “identifier” or “seed”). It is the equivalent of saying that any one number, foreign or domestic, is “relevant” to all telephone numbers issued within the United States.
The NSA must understand that the words “relevance” and “convenience” are not synonymous. The White Paper fails to make a persuasive argument. Telephone bulk metadata collection is, therefore, illegal.
It is ironic that to the president of the United States, Barack Obama, blowing the whistle on an illegal government program is unpatriotic.