Brookings, 22 August 2013
Rather than starting with what I—or anyone else—think and believe about the remarkable cache of documents the intelligence community declassified yesterday, I thought we should begin with a detailed account of what these documents actually are and the story they tell, individually and collectively.
The press stories that follow a document release like this often do not bother to do this. They look, instead, for a key—or the key—fact, around which the news story then develops. In this case, unsurprisingly, the key fact is that the NSA gathered tens of thousands of email communication by Americans before the FISA Court declared its actions unconstitutional. As the Washington Post puts it in its lead:
For several years, the National Security Agency unlawfully gathered tens of thousands of e-mails and other electronic communications between Americans as part of a now-revised collection method, according to a 2011 secret court opinion.