If the US National Security Agency’s massive electronic spy system didn’t catch the murderous jihadist lovers, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook, what is it for?
According to documents compiled by the Federation of American Scientists, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes security issues, the NSA was one of 15 US intelligence agencies that spent a combined US$75 billion in 2012, the last year for which figures are available. It was estimated that some 14 percent of the budget goes to the NSA. Supposedly, the NSA and CIA say, this vast security apparatus is designed to pick up key words including plots to kill and maim Americans, delivered via telephone or Internet, by fundamentalist radicals. An investigation by the Washington Post into 160,000 e-mails and SMS conversations in August of 2014 found that half of the communications were either to or from or about Americans. The documents include health records, academic transcripts and revealing photographs, tell stories of adultery, mental illness, and religious conversion.
Snowden has been accused by CIA and NSA officials of hampering the US intelligence effort so badly that attackers can hit American targets with impunity. Now debarked in Moscow, Snowden would probably spend the rest of his life in prison if he ever was to show his face in the US again.
But Tashfeen and Syed appear to have been having homicidal tete-a-tetes before the US Congress decided to limit surveillance, based on the scandal his revelations has generated.
So why didn’t the NSA pick up their conversations? If there was ever a case that would have demonstrates the US spy agencies’ prowess, this would have been it.