Pre-Snowden NSA grunts wanted to nix phone spying: report

Memo seen by managers, but not top dog

Even before Edward Snowden spilled the beans on the National Security Agency's(NSA's) extensive surveillance programs, high-level US bureaucrats were considering spiking the program.

So says The Associated Press, thanks to unnamed sources who told the wire service the mass surveillance was disappointing as a counter-terrorism strategy.

They claim the phone collection programs missed most mobile calls, and spent too much money hoovering landlines, adding vox interceptions were not central to counter-terrorism efforts.

It flies in the face of boilerplate public responses from the spy agency that the costly and intrusive programs are worth every cent.

President Barack Obama has proposed the NSA only pull interception data from telecommunications providers on an as-needed basis, but that has yet to pass Congress.

Sources told the AP that top managers had received the proposal drafted from lower-level grunts, but it had not reached then NSA boss General Keith Alexander, who they say would probably have rejected the report.

A presidential task force also suggests the programs should be dumped, since the phone record collection leaves open the dangerous possibility of abuse by future governments.

The AP says the revelations could impact Congress' decision to renew the NSA's phone tapping warrant in June.

Civil libertarians accuse the US Government of solving only one domestic terrorism case through the spying mechanisms in which a San Diego taxi driver was convicted of raising $15,000 for a Somali terrorist group.

The claims follow early Snowden disclosures that revealed the NSA dumped the collection of email metadata due to poor cost-benefit analysis results. ®

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