We’re still in the dark as to what specifically the NSA was authorized to collect under the heading of “metadata” in this program. The information we do have has come from Snowden’s document leaks, not from the DNI’s “magnanimous” compelled response to court orders. Considering so much of this info is already out in the open, you would think the ODNI would have applied the black pen a little less heavily.
What we have learned is that the FISA courts have been delivered report after report of abuse by the NSA and has, with rare exceptions, allowed the agency to continue its collections uninterrupted. The “rubber stamp” may be able to craft 100+ page opinions filled with sincere discussions of the program’s merits and the NSA’s seeming inability to not exceed its authority, but when it’s all said and done, the court allows the collections to proceed.