NSA Chief Begs His Public To Help Agency 'Get The Facts Out'

from the ohhhh...-that-'public' dept

Apparently sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the USS Surveillance has lost its thrill. With more than 20 pieces of legislation in the works aimed at curtailing or eliminating the NSA’s surveillance programs and Patrick Leahy calling for an end of the phone data program, Gen. Alexander’s future spying plans are facing the threat of cancellation.

Sadly, the proud “cowboy” who once ordered underlings to damn the legality and “collect it all” seems to have lost a whole lot of swagger over the past few weeks. He’s been reduced to pleading with “the public” for its help and understanding.

Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, called Wednesday on the public to help defend his agency’s powers as Congress mulls restrictions aimed at protecting privacy.

“We need your help. We need to get these facts out,” Alexander said during a cybersecurity summit at the National Press Club. “We need our nation to understand why we need these tools.”

It seems like a rather odd proposition: asking victims to defend their violator. Not sure that’s going to play well in the sticks anywhere. This new plea seems to suggest the NSA’s recent “Friends and Family” reputation resuscitation plan isn’t expected to result in a groundswell of support. But Alexander isn’t referring to the American public, he’s referring to his kind of public — a small, sympathetic group of insiders who stand to benefit from the continuation of large-scale surveillance programs.

[If you can’t read the above, it says: “Important to remember who Alexander’s audience ACTUALLY was at this cyber event. Wasnt really the “public” per se. It was contractors, cyber firms, businesses already working with Pentagon, NSA, more. Businesses with fed dollars. He wants THEIR help”]

If you need to “get the facts out,” we’ve got just the guy for it. However, you’ll have to dial long-distance and there’s a very good chance he won’t take your call. The facts are coming out, General. But what you’re asking for here, from this small subset of “the public,” is help pushing a narrative.

One of the best drivers of this narrative is the always-looming (but largely intangible) threat of terrorism. That’s why he’s once again pimping fear out on the rhetorical corner.

He warned that if Congress hampers the NSA’s ability to gather information, it could allow for terrorist attacks in the United States similar to last week’s massacre in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

“If you take those [surveillance powers] away, think about the last week and what will happen in the future,” he said. “If you think it’s bad now, wait until you get some of those things that happened in Nairobi.”

In the course of peddling this fear, he might want to point a few fingers at the intelligence community itself, which completely failed to warn anyone, anywhere about the attack. I assume we’re still listening in on worldwide terrorist “chatter,” so you’d think we’d have had some sort of heads up about the Nairobi attack, considering the many dragnets we have deployed. Or do we only step in when it’s targeted against the US?

Either way, Alexander is digging himself into a rhetorical hole. And he just can’t stop digging.

He said the program [phone data collection] is key for “connecting the dots” and foiling terrorist attacks.

“I can tell you, although I can’t go into detail, it provides the speed and agility in crises like the Boston marathon and the threats this summer,” Alexander said.

What? I thought this data was being gathered to stop terrorist attacks, not speedily connect the dots post-tragedy. As was covered here earlier, these intelligence agencies seem to want to be rewarded for their remarkable hindsight. I don’t think anyone views the NSA as a “crisis-response team.” I’m fairly sure everyone sees it as tasked with preventing terrorist attacks, quite possibly because EVERY NSA DEFENDER PORTRAYS IT AS EXACTLY THAT. See also: Gen. Alexander, previous paragraph, “…program is key for ‘connecting the dots and foiling terrorist attacks.”

The intelligence agency has worked its way from denial through anger and now seems to have hit the “bargaining” stage, albeit the sort of low-pressure bargaining that hinges on the implicit threat that “as goes the NSA, so do these sweet government contracts.” By sometime in early November the agency should be settling into “depression,” an emotional stage an intelligence agency has never experienced before. Should be very interesting.

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Comments on “NSA Chief Begs His Public To Help Agency 'Get The Facts Out'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

NSA is – and rightfully so – in a vulnerable position with the leaks and all. The call to arms to the defence contractor lobbying city of Washington is not as badly timed as one might think: Lobbyists cannot stop legislation as such, they just water it down to meaninglessness. Therefore the swell of bills gutting NSA surveillance will be quite the task for the lobbyists and this is a warning for the contracrtors to increase their lobbying efforts significantly. On the other hand, defence contractors blow NRA, MPAA and other somewhat powerful lobbying organisations out of the water. They dont need much to completely devour the will of the peoples representatives by appealing to their fears. Since fear is such a powerful force, I doubt the final laws will be worth their weight in paper weights.

out_of_the_blue says:

MORE DISTRACTION. Call for indictments and JAIL, Mike!

YOU”RE the one helping NSA wiggle away by putting out all their distractions!


This is VERY SIMPLE. Laws were broken, perjury committed, public trust of Offices betrayed: those responsible need to be indicted, tried in public, and JAILED.

[“the intelligence agency has worked its way from denial through anger and now seems to have hit the “bargaining” stage,” — ALWAYS been the plan, it’s all a limited hangout to get public to accept it.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: MORE DISTRACTION. Call for indictments and JAIL, Mike!

Again, not often I agree with OotB, but this is a highly salient point: those at the top level knew that this was going on, and lied, not only to Congress, but to everyone else. And remember, when you testify in Congress, you are effectively in a court, with similar rules.

Everyone involved should be jailed and left to rot. Or shot, for “terrorism” reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

all he wants to do is carry on collecting as much data as possible from those that are the least threatening, the public! we’ve heard all this shit before about how they have to carry on doing this surveillance so as to thwart terrorist attacks! and it is exactly that, shit! from what we’ve seen, he couldn’t stop a terrorist attack if it was happening in his trousers!! even the most intelligence hindered person can understand that anyone who wanted to do anything that was illegal, would take precautions, wouldn’t use ordinary channels and would use some sort of encryption. he wants to carry on as before because he was getting a hell of a lot of money for spying on the innocent who were doing absolutely nothing illegal! he doesn’t want to lose that! and i still reckon that the biggest reason this is going on is for the benefit of the entertainment industries! they want to know which person is downloading what piece of media illegally and where they are! you think it’s a crazy idea? maybe, but which country, which security agencies, spent an absolute fortune to arrest a person who ran a file sharing site and is going to end up in deep shit because of it. i would have said a while back that was crazy but it turned out to be true! the fact that the UK are right up to the makers name with the USG on this and that between them, they are going to have a whole lot of serious shit to handle, more so now that Brazil has called Obama out over it and the UK are using a terrorist law, twisted beyond belief, to hold up a known Democracy and Human Rights activist at an airport! i am wondering how much longer before the UK admits to doing whatever the USA says and how long before it wipes democracy off the slate!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Didn’t stop the Boston Bombings or the Washington D.C. Naval Yard shootings or the Columbine Collage attack or the Oklahoma City Bombing or the Kenya Mall massacre or the…

What the unconstitutional spy programs did do very well, was spy on the Brazilian President and Brazilian deep sea oiling company. As well as spying on tens of millions of law-abiding citizens. Plus destroying the US Constitution.

Not to mention racking up trillions of dollars in spying debts during a global recession.

These spy programs aren’t about stopping or catching terrorists. How many terrorists have been brought to trial over the killing of an American Ambassador in the Benghazi embassy attack? How many?


Anonymous Coward says:

Are we approaching the end of the world as we know it? I actually agree with ootb on this one and am surprised that with no attacks, an intelligible post he has made has been reported into obscurity. Maybe it’s just muscle memory causing that from past posts.

Alexander’s problem is that he’s taking his agency too far. To generally quote a movie line, ‘you were given a Ferrari and used it like a lawn mower’. Now that it’s come home to roost, all the lies didn’t work, all the denying what you weren’t doing but were, and true extent of illegality has now come to surface as public knowledge, I have no; let me say that again; I have no support of your methods and all of it now needs to end as there is no way anyone can oversee this mess that’s been created.

TSO says:

> I thought this data was being gathered to stop [Boston] terrorist attacks

The only reason NSA didn’t get its chance to shine is because these evil Russians helpfully gathered, processed and supplied to the US *all* the data necessary to stop the Boston bombing a couple years prior… ( http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/22/why-the-fbi-didn-t-make-much-of-russia-s-request-to-probe-boston-bomber.html )

wavettore (user link) says:

Like father like sons

All that is happening is the prelude to the next big surprise. Since George H. Bush was CIA director, the US secret State agencies had played a double role to get to today when every person is constantly monitored by NSA and other agencies not to report information to the US Government but to feed with all data the embryo of a new superpower. In 1992 the ex CIA director was elected US President and allowed his own son, Neil Bush, to get away with the largest robbery of its time, the ?Savings and Loans scandal?. After a few years, his other son became US president, plotted the most infamous attack on US soil, 9/11, and consolidated for 8 years the self interest of one family above all. At the present time, a group of Zionists, like a hidden parallel government, with George Bush still today at the head of secret services in the US, UK and Israel, is the destabilizing force behind most terror events and with classified information at disposal and a private army is plotting what now would seem unthinkable to many. The spokesman for this group in the US Congress is John Mc Cain who reports the given orders weighing on the US administration. A War of Religion and chaos everywhere have been plotted so that desperate people will soon invoke a New World Order without even knowing what that is. Not the protests or violence in the streets could ever oppose such threat to the whole Humankind configured in a Plan relying on its long tentacles and the short memory of the people. TV, newspapers and other media will do the rest to confuse what should be already crystal clear.

There is one single Solution.


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