General Keith Alexander, who recently stepped down from his position atop the NSA, told an interviewer in Australia that he still has no idea how many documents Edward Snowden took. "I don’t think anybody really knows what he actually took with him, because the way he did it, we don’t have an accurate way of counting," he said. "What we do have an accurate way of counting is what he touched, what he may have downloaded, and that was more than a million documents."
That doesn't narrow things down much! Glenn Greenwald explains why this admission matters in the surveillance debate:
The primary defense of the NSA and its defenders is that one need not worry about the staggering sums of data they collect because they have implemented very rigorous oversight mechanisms and controls that prevent abuse. Yet Snowden spent months downloading a large amount of highly sensitive documents right under their noses. And not only did they have no idea that he was doing it, but now—even after spending large sums of money to find out—they are still completely incapable of learning which documents he took or even how many he took. Does that sound like a well-managed, tightly controlled system that you can trust to safeguard your most personal data and to detect and prevent abuse of this system by the tens of thousands of people who have access to it?