The Washington Post’s Mark Berman tweeted a story that ordinary Internet users far outnumber targeted foreign citizens in NSA interceptions.
However, not all of the information collected was useless. The Post reports:
Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.
Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.
The Post says it reviewed “roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.” It also noted that the material “spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.”
Correction: Washington Post reporter Bowden tweeted out the Post story referenced above but hasn’t personally received any classified information from Snowden. We have revised our post accordingly and apologize to both Berman and our readers for the error.