Unproductive firehose from NSA wiretaps

Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a “vital tool” against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved “thousands of lives.”

But … law enforcement and counterterrorism officials … said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.
“We’d chase a number, find it’s a schoolteacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism – case closed,” said one former F.B.I. official.

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