Our idiot Big Brother

Or maybe the oversight is a lot of hooey anyway. The Egyptian dialing-code fiasco, for example, was never passed on to the NSA’s “oversight staff,” but it was the subject of a “quality assurance review,” which sounds like the sort of follow-up you get when you buy a fridge from Sears. Maybe they could just have NSA customer-service representatives announcing that your call may be monitored for quality-control purposes at the start of every telephone conversation. Of course, most customer-service representatives are based in India (telephone code 91) but there’s a sporting chance the NSA would confuse it with Kansas (code 913), which could do wonders for the employment rate.

NSA personnel additionally fall under the external oversight of the FISA Amendment Act, which means the Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A leaked document instructs NSA agents to remove all details of the “targeting rationale” except for “one short sentence” in generic language. An actual example from the leaked document:

“Mohammad Badguy was on the buddy list of al Qaeda in Mogadishu, Somalia.”

That’s way too much information. In order to comply with federal oversight, it should be amended to:

“Selector was found on buddy list of al Qaeda in Somalia.”