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Submission + - ask - what do you think caused the NSA to start collecting so much data? (slashdot.org) 13

raymorris writes: Many people believe that the NSA collects far too much data, violating the privacy rights of the very citizens the NSA is supposed to protect. How did we get here? What specific structural or cultural changes can be identified that led some to believe it is okay to engage in this sort of broad dragnet surveillance as opposed to getting specific court orders for specific suspects?

Many people simply assign the blame to the opposite political party, which doesn't get very far in solving the problem and ensuring it doesn't happen again. Can we look at specific, identifiable factors and show exactly how they directly caused the intelligence community to get off track? For example, precisely which sections of which laws are being used to justify these programs, and what caused those laws to be passed? Is the surveillance directly authorized by law, or do the justifications require "creative" interpretation of the law?

In order to avoid getting into yet another fruitless political flame war and keep the discussion factually focused, please provide citations where possible.

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