The Metadata Haystack

By Bill Maher

It’s a tired point, but it’s true: The best argument against the existence of a 9/11 conspiracy is that Americans just aren’t very good at that sort of thing. We do conspiracies like Canadians make wine. Or Russians do plumbing. Australian literature, anybody? I don’t like that the NSA knows I have a blog called “Reese Witherspoon Nude Fakes,” and I don’t know how that makes America safer, but I take some small comfort in knowing, when it tries to do evil, our government tends to trip over its own dick.

And the NSA might know a lot less than we think. According to the Washington Post, it can actually collect data on less than 30 percent of American calls. It just doesn’t have the technology. And it didn’t count on our “massive shift” from landlines to cell phones. In 2006, the NSA collected nearly 100% of phone data, according to the Post, but we used landlines a lot more then. Now we don’t. And the NSA can’t keep up. Its bulk-collection program doesn't even cover T-Mobile and Verizon.

Question #1: Is it comforting or not to realize that our spooks would violate our privacy more if they could just get their shit together?  

Question #2: Did the Washington Post just tell terror cells to switch to T-Mobile and Verizon?