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The NSA’s misguided mission

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Even those who believe the National Security Agency’s vacuum-cleaner surveillance of electronic communications does not trample privacy rights should be troubled by this practical implication: If you try to know everything, you end up knowing nothing.

An investigation by The Washington Post, which examined a cache of intelligence reports provided by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden, illustrates my point. The agency is gathering and warehousing enormous amounts of private information, most of it irrelevant because it concerns innocent individuals — mostly foreigners, but some U.S. citizens as well.

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