Irv Lachow, the CNAS cyberfellow, said it is plausible that metadata could be used to figure out who is probably having extramarital affairs. So, he said, what if the government wants to develop a list of people with security clearances who are engaging in affairs and so more susceptible to blackmail, emotional stress, or financial trouble?
His point is that we need to think this through, and focus not on what is legal, but on what is ethical and wise. I agree.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.