Boiled down to its essence: The internet does not work the way the all-powerful National Security Agency needs it to work. The intelligence agency discovered at some point between 2008 and 2011 that the aperture at the end of one of its collection programs was too wide, and was vacuuming up detritus in the form of your emails and mine, and that there was no way to fix this without cutting off a source of valuable foreign intelligence. And this would be okay if the NSA made a good faith effort to identify and destroy the "dirty" communication after the fact.

But NSA did not. So focused were they on their foreign intelligence mission that they — and I'm talking about the leadership here — placed a lower premium on following the spirit of the law, much less its actual wording.

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