Mass surveillance: an “insurance policy”

I was struck by this passage in an admirable blog post by Ray Corrigan.

The latest from the NSA is that they now seem to be admitting (in spite of previous claims that this mass surveillance stopped 54 major terror attacks it didn’t really stop any, but may possibly have provided secondary supportive evidence in relation to one) that the best argument they can come up with is mass data collection might be useful as an “insurance policy”. What?! An insurance policy?! The infrastructure of mass surveillance might be useful in the future, somehow, to someone?

The relevant passage in the NSA testimony reads:

While Inglis conceded in his NPR interview that at most one terrorist attack might have been foiled by NSA’s bulk collection of all American phone data – a case in San Diego that involved a money transfer from four men to al-Shabaab in Somalia – he described it as an “insurance policy” against future acts of terrorism.

“I’m not going to give that insurance policy up, because it’s a necessary component to cover a seam that I can’t otherwise cover,” Inglis said.