While revelations about the NSA's domestic spying programs are alarming and scary for anyone that cares about privacy, it could be worse. The New York Times explains why the NSA's collected data could be shared across just about every other agency in the U.S. government – if it let it happen.
According to the NYT report, several government agencies have complained that the NSA and the FBI shut them out of any data they collect. The NSA has refused these requests from other agencies due to "legal constraints" and "privacy concerns."
These revelations come from several former US intelligence officials who told the publication that the NSA's data collection has caused "turf battles" with other agencies who have complained of a lack of access to NSA's tools. Former White House and Office of the Director of National Security official Timothy H. Edgar said that such complaints were pretty common:
"They collect all this information, but it’s difficult for the other agencies to get access to what they want," he told the paper."The other agencies feel they should be bigger players. They view the NSA—incorrectly, I think—as this big pot of data that they could go get if they were just able to pry it out of them."
The only agency mentioned in the article is the DEA. Officially the agency says that it is happy with the level of cooperation with both the FBI and the NSA. Off the record, officials offered a more blunt response; they said they felt "shut out" by the NSA and FBI. The NSA and the FBI said privately that some agencies looking for information often exaggerate the national security implications of their requests in order to get better access.