Desperate to drum up some sort of evidence of the NSA’s effectiveness in tracking down terrorists by collecting phone records from literally every single American, officials have tapped a relatively minor case of an immigrant cab driver arrested for sending money to Somalia as proof of how important the program is.
Basaly Moalin, a San Diego cab driver who managed to get asylum after being wounded in tribal fighting in Somalia, was arrested for providing $8,500 to a top leader in his tribe, who was also considered a member of al-Shabaab. The FBI conceded at the time that the money wasn’t about ideological support but rather an attempt to promote his own status within his tribe.
Moalin was under constant surveillance from 2003 until his arrest in 2010, charged with “aiding terrorism,” and is still awaiting sentencing.
So to sum it up, it took them seven solid years to arrest a cab driver whose crime amounts to sending a relatively small sum of money to a member of his tribe, in a country where his family still lives. And that’s the NSA’s big story to brag about.
Officials even conceded that they could’ve just gotten a court order for Moalin’s phone records instead of collecting the phone records of every single human being on the planet, but argue that this way is just more convenient for them.