The NSA compliance officer says that the number is actually really minuscule in the big picture since they make 20 million such queries a month. Methinks what it really shows is the utter contempt and disregard that they hold for the constitution and the fourth amendment.
Now the rodentia and spy apologists are starting to jump off the lifeboats. FISA Judge Reggie Walker admits that the court can't do their job if the reports they get have been minimized. Congressional leaders are aghast that they have not been provided key intelligence documents as legally required. All of the cheerleader in chief's reassurance and protestations about checks, balances and oversight turns out to be pure caca de toro.
Does it really matter if these illegal intrusions are willful or not? When once you have been stuck on a database list, you are there for ever? Give the spooks enough time and I can assure you, we will all be in a database somewhere, if not on our way to the gulag. It is foolish to think that these agencies will ever adequately police themselves and can be trusted with this kind of power.
There is a great article at the Electronic Frontier Foundation that details the semantical wordplay and sophistry that the spymasters use to lie and dissemble their machinations. Trevor Timm's A Guide to the Deceptions, Misinformation, and Word Games Officials Use to Mislead the Public About NSA Surveillance. Check it out.
"Another tried and true technique in the NSA obfuscation playbook is to deny it does one invasive thing or another “under this program.” When it’s later revealed the NSA actually does do the spying it said it didn’t, officials can claim it was just part of another program not referred to in the initial answer.
This was the Bush administration’s strategy for the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”: The term “TSP” ended up being a meaningless label, created by administration officials after the much larger warrantless surveillance program was exposed by the New York Times in 2005. They used it to give the misleading impression that the NSA’s spying program was narrow and aimed only at intercepting the communications of terrorists. In fact, the larger program affected all Americans.
Now we’re likely seeing it as part of the telephone records collection debate when administration officials repeat over and over that they aren’t collecting location data “under this program.” Sen. Ron Wyden has strongly suggested this might not be the whole story."