Maybe the term "meta data" has been mis-used when talking about the NSA and its programs. When I started this thread I used the term I had heard and read I thought common use to describe the collecting of phone records including phone numbers, location of the persons making and receiving the call, emails, credit card purchases and I am sure other information about private citizens that have not committed a crime or suspected of committing a crime.
Someday it may be revealed they also have the content of phone calls. If not digital recordings then software that converts voice into text. I have been playing with such software for a couple of months and it works spooky good.
Above brings me back to my reason for starting this thread.
Scenario; Say you are charged with a bank robbery committed 6 months ago in a town you haven't been in for several years. You know you didn't do it but there is circumstantial evidence such as someone saying or video that someone that looked like you did the crime. If the government has collected through the NSA program or another data collection program information that would help your defense my understanding is they have to make this information available to the defense and courts.
I know we are not going to get any satisfaction here. A lot of very smart people have come out and said these programs are clearly un-constitutional.
As a working tax payer I guess I had better do some actual work