NSA's Keith Alexander Calls Emergency Private Briefing To Lobby Against Amash Amendment

from the what-are-you-afraid-of? dept

So we were just writing about the details of the amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, which would limit the NSA's ability to twist the language of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to pretend it means it's okay to collect information on every phone call made. If you want to know just how important this is, all you need to know is that NSA boss, General Keith Alexander, wasted no time in scheduling a last-minute emergency briefing for Congress to tell them not to vote for the Amash Amendment.
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander scheduled a last-minute, members-only briefing in response to the amendment, according to an invitation distributed to members of Congress this morning and forwarded to HuffPost. "In advance of anticipated action on amendments to the DoD Appropriations bill, Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Intelligence Committee invites your Member to attend a question and answer session with General Keith B. Alexander of the National Security Agency," reads the invitation.

The invitation warned members that they could not share what they learned with their constituents or others. "The briefing will be held at the Top Secret/SCI level and will be strictly Members-Only," reads the invite.
Of course, the people that Congress is supposed to be representing, the public, don't get the privilege of being able to secure a last minute "briefing" with our elected officials to explain to them why the Amash amendment is important. Instead, we need to rely on things like DefundTheNSA.com or Demand Progress to reach out to our Representatives to let them know that bulk data collection on every American is not acceptable behavior by the NSA.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:04am

    "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

    Apparently Keith Alexander is afraid. So what (else) is he hiding?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:12am

    do they get those sweet members only jackets too?


    > Apparently Keith Alexander is afraid. So what (else) is he hiding?

    not so much what mr alexander is hiding, but more what the intelligence committee members themselves want to keep hidden

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Kevin H (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Now that they have the power and the dubious legal precedent to back it up they do not want to give it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Contact your reps ASAP

    Let your reps in congress know that you strongly support the defunding amendment, so they can make informed decisions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Well the executive branch has gotten the judicial system to make rulings after only listening to them (FISA court), so why not try to get the lawmakers in their pocket too? If they listen only to the executive branch and not the public, then they can be controlled/swayed.

     

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  6.  
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    Drew, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:29am

    Cutting off mass surveillance for Keith Alexander would be like banning gay porn for John Steele.

     

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  7.  
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    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Remember, these are the same agencies that were certain that Saddam had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" which was supposed to justify the Iraq war.
    Or, to put it another way, they make up whatever s**t they want and expect everyone to believe them. Can't check their sources, can you?
    Governmental Intelligence is a stupid idea as well as an oxymoron. The government doesn't do anything correctly without checks and balances. Hell, they do very little correctly WITH checks and balaces.

     

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  8.  
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    Djdjdndd, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Wake up Amerika.

    Yeah to say we got dirt on each of you and unless you like your nice job and life don't vote for it.

    Why is nobody talking about this potential? Every vote, every court ruling is suspect. The immense power they have is incredible.

    Just on a personal level. My alarm went off the other day. Alarm company called and asked for my PIN, I said it - I was on my cell phone.

    Now if the NSA wanted they could have my PIN.

    The power the NSA has is far too great.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    He's probably the real Osama Bin Laden. /shrug

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Well, what better cover for a congressman then a secret meeting that they can't reveal the contents of to their voters when they vote against their interests and then run for reelection.

    I think that'll work as well as it did when say Senator Burns was running against John Tester for reelection, claiming that unpopular things he did stopped terrorist attacks, but not being able to give ANY details once so ever on those claims. We now have a Senator Tester if you want to know who won that argument.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Felix Calls Emergency Meeting

    General Felix calls an emergency meeting to warn against a bill requiring putting bells on members of the CAT organization.

    General Felix was quoted telling Mouse Representative Justin Amash, "Just where do you get off?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    John Doe, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:43am

    You misunderstand

    Of course, the people that Congress is supposed to be representing, the public, don't get the privilege of being able to secure a last minute "briefing" with our elected officials to explain to them why the Amash amendment is important.

    The government no longer serves the people, the people serve the government. That government which is big enough to give you everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. We have reached the take everything you have phase.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    John Doe, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    My take on this is if I have nothing to hide, they have no reason to be looking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Jasmine Charter, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:47am

    I think it's good...

    I think it's good for them to collect metadata and store it in a giant database that can be accessed anytime by anyone (see IRS scandals).

    This makes good sense... because it's to prevent terrorism.

    Another good idea is to search EVERY house in America and take photos of EVERYTHING in it and then store the photos in case their ever needed. That would protect against terror too.

    In fact, it's probably a good idea to take fingerprints, DNA samples and even stick cameras in everyone's home - but not to actually look at that stuff unless it's needed.

    I mean, how much easier is it for law enforcement then?!

    Think... of... the... children...

     

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  15.  
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    nbcart (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Re:

    John Steele reportedly only uploads porn... You would have to confirm that with the NSA though.

     

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  16.  
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    Tunnen, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    They are holding the meeting behind close doors, so the public can't point out how everything he told the congress members were more lies.

     

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  17.  
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    pixelation, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    I wish they had invited my member...

     

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  18.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    It's quite amazing that NOW Congress gets briefed, when before this NSA did anything possible to avoid briefing Congress.

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Weapons of Mass Destruction

    these are the same agencies that were certain that Saddam had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" which was supposed to justify the Iraq war


    In all fairness, this isn't exactly true. A special executive committee cherry-picked from intelligence reports to lead to the erroneous conclusion. The totality of what the intelligence agencies said was actually reasonably close to what ended up being so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    if they hadn't been up to anything bad and underhanded, they wouldn't be shitting backwards at losing anything or being stopped from doing anything! they would have looked on themselves as being squeaky clean and their conduct beyond reproach. in reality, they have been nothing but underhanded, surveilling, two faced arse holes, so they deserve to lose as much funding and freedom of carrying on with the same practices as soon as possible, with severe consequences when caught still carrying on as before (and yes, they will definitely carry on!!)!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Wake up Amerika.

    Alarm company called and asked for my PIN, I said it - I was on my cell phone.


    Ummm... if you're giving your PIN to someone over the phone, you have far, far bigger security issues than whether or not the NSA is listening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Joseph Ratliff (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    A not so easy solution...

    Couldn't we lobby Congress to put legislation that makes it illegal to have "top-secret, members only" meetings about public matters like the funding (not the funds themselves, the funding) of the NSA?

    It seems to me they shouldn't be able to meet in secret about those things that aren't secret.

     

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  23.  
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    Richard Caldwell, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Alexander to Congress:

    "You kids don't understand, if we pull back on the illicit surveillance then we will never catch the sleeper cells from the Andromeda galaxy."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Private meeting, not allowed to tell anyone what went on afterwards... why can't I shake the feeling the 'security briefing' might involve putting some of that info the NSA has snagged to good use 'persuading' the congress critters to change their stances?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Private Meeting Transcript

    Rep 1: We're yanking funding for the NSA's spy gathering machine.

    Alexander: What will it take to get you to change your mind?

    Rep 2: How 'bout season tickets to "insert professional sports team name" games?

    Alexander: Sure. Anything else?

    Rep 1: My grand kids would really like a puppy.

    Alexander: Done.

    Rep 1: Well, I think that about does it.

    Rep 2: Who's buying drinks?

    Alexander: I've got it.

    Rep 1: Great! Meeting adjourned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Wake up Amerika.

    Ummm... if you're giving your PIN to someone over the phone, you have far, far bigger security issues than whether or not the NSA is listening.


    Where I work has an alarm system that has initiated a few false alarms. The alarm company will call and you have to supply the personal pin number (different numbers for different employees) over the phone to cancel the police call. Otherwise they will automatically assume they are talking to the criminal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wake up Amerika.

    Ahh, my mistake. I've never had to deal with third-party alarm companies. My security system just texts me directly, with pictures, and I decide whether or not to call the cops.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:47pm

    Alexander needs to be charged and tried. Period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Bill W (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:23pm

    It's not new people!

    I was reflecting tonight on the NSA debacle and was thinking back on my own career. I am retired now but worked for a company (actually several companies but MY position never changed, they just kept changing the sign on the building ...) that built surveillance satellites for the NRO. Of course we couldn't even say "N R O" at the time but that bubble has burst long ago. We also had contact with another agency with a similar acronym although we were mostly optical "R" when we dealt with that other agency.

    You may have heard of Corona which has been declassified and actually installed in the Air and Space Museum. It was really freaky to go see it as when I was working on the follow-on program Corona was a "naughty word" never to be mentioned. I don't think I can mention our program (but a simple search can reveal it) yet but it, too, was optical. But at the same time we had several other programs which were trying to integrate optical surveillance with "SigInt" (Signal Intelligence) and although we did not use those technologies we did work with people who did.

    So even back in the early 1980's the focus in the Intel community was on advancing spying on every part that could be spied on. That it has gone as far as it has in the past 30 years in no surprise at all to me. It is a pattern that has its roots way back in time.

    I don't know that you can use any of my musings. It matters little in the current scheme of things. But I thought you might like to hear of a retired "spy" who actively worked these programs that I think it has gone too far by leagues. What disturbs me most is the feeling of entitlement that these people seem to feel. It's "because I can therefore I WILL" that bothers me. Distresses me. There seems to be no Right or Wrong evaluation here. At all.

    Distressing ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: You misunderstand

    Don't worry about the federal government they are doomed in about 10-15 years. The combination of debt, robotics and smart systems will reduce the tax paying part of the population to from 86 million people to 25-35 million people. Which is unsustainable. Then toss in the cost of an aging population.

    The tech from Google's self driving car will wipe out 8 million jobs directly and 4 million secondary. Elon Musk's automation of his car factory will wipe out another 12-14 million jobs in the auto industry when the big 3 realize they have to follow suit to compete. Cheap baxter like robots, burger making bots and fry cooks, shelf stocking bots, and warehouse bots will take out another 30 million jobs.

    I could go on for another 1,000 words on this but you get the picture. Due to automation tax revenue will fall substantially over the next decade and a half, the cost of an aging population, and the debt all combine into a catastrophic financial failure for the US federal government all debt laden nations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jul 25th, 2013 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: You misunderstand

    "The combination of debt, robotics and smart systems will reduce the tax paying part of the population to from 86 million people to 25-35 million people. Which is unsustainable."

    New tech makes a bigger pie. There will be even more jobs and more taxpayers. At least that is what I keep reading here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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