A simple case of a liberal trying to impress the lefty base with her innocence about the surveillance state or proof that O and the NSA really are up to more than anyone thought? Well, she’s specific in saying that there are things happening that go beyond what’s been publicly revealed. (Although maybe not for long: Remember, Glenn Greenwald’s promised further leaks.) Read Ed’s post this morning about other members of Congress sounding grim and you’ll see she’s not the only one on whom the classified briefings made an impression. Nor is she the only person lately to refer to data-mining of phone records and Internet communications as the “tip of the iceberg.” Former NSA official turned whistleblower William Binney has used that phrase too in describing what he suspects is the full scope of federal record-harvesting. I think that’s what Sanchez is probably getting at here — it’s the sheer scope of what they’re vacuuming up that would blow our minds if we knew, not necessarily that they’re using technologies we weren’t aware of. Marc Ambinder wrote the other day that it’s 50 companies that are being trawled for data by the feds, not just the big nine identified on the PRISM Powerpoint. Having that fact confirmed probably wouldn’t change the public’s opinion of NSA surveillance much, I suspect, but if some of the companies involved turned out to be, say, insurers with access to people’s medical records — hoo boy.
Here’s the clip via the Hill. Michael Hayden told TPM yesterday that the NSA probably knows by now exactly what data Snowden has in his possession and therefore what leaks are still to come. Maybe that forced the agency to reveal more than they initially wanted to in their briefings this week with Congress: If they withheld something and then the world found out thanks to Snowden,, a lot of angry senators and representatives would want to know why they were kept in the dark. Exit question: How is that we can bug virtually the entire Internet but Clapper’s going around saying things like this about our cyberdefenses?