Re: The code-ring on the golf course
Lets translate what they are doing into plain English.
Suppose you are sending emails at https://www.gmail.com
The NSA knows there is traffic between your computer and GMail. Because it is encrypted, they don't know what the contents of that traffic are.
Assuming that SSL is unbreakable for all practical purposes, there are two ways they can find out what you were doing on GMail.
1. They can ask you
2. They can ask Google
Sometimes they will get the rubber hose out and ask you what you were doing, but they would rather not do that because if they do, then you know that they asked you.
However, they can ask Google, and Google will tell them, and Google won't tell you that they told them, and it is almost as easy to get the information off them as it is to get it from an unencrypted browsing session at http://www.gmail.com/