But what we should all be troubled by given our parlous financial state, is the cost of the large scale intelligence gathering and the humongous infrastructure built to do so. As my old friend Winn Schwartau argues, when you figure out what can be done with even the most optimistic estimates of computer power backed by human analysts making operational decisions, then whatever the NSA can only process a few percent of all the data that is there to be gathered. This means they are getting very poor bang for the buck, but that there is, in any real accounting, no bang for the buck!
So, perhaps the biggest question to be asked about the NSA's activities is not whether they violate Americans' privacy or enable governmental overreach or violate laws, but whether what they're doing is one of the most expensive boondoggles in U.S. history.
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