Keith Alexander Still Playing Bogus Fear Card: 'People Will Die' Because Of Snowden Leaks

from the people-are-going-to-die dept

Keith Alexander just can’t resist playing the “fear card” when it comes to the Snowden leaks. His latest move is to insist people will die:

Terrorists “listen, they see what has come out in the press and they adjust,” Gen. Alexander said. He said the damage from the leaks is irreversible. “I believe people will die because we won’t be able to stop some of those threats.”

Let’s face facts: the NSA cannot and will not stop all attacks. It totally missed the Boston Marathon bombing, for example, even if (ridiculously) it now likes to cite that as one of its “successes” because it was able to make sure that other attacks weren’t likely to follow. Yes, people will die from terrorist attacks. That’s what happens. The NSA is never going to be 100% successful in stopping attacks. That’s the nature of the game. In fact, it’s not clear that the NSA has a particularly good track record at stopping attacks at all. But, going further, just because there are some threats, it doesn’t mean we throw the 4th Amendment out the window the way Alexander apparently would like.

As I’ve said before, I’m sure law enforcement would be able to stop lots of crimes — and potentially some people getting killed — if it was just able to put a video camera and microphone everywhere. But we don’t allow that, because the tradeoff in terms of a violation of our privacy is too great.

Furthermore, that bullshit line about terrorists “adjusting” based on what they read in the press? That might (though, not really) have some weight if others in the intelligence community hadn’t already noted that terrorists already know all of this and avoided using these systems, and the fact that the NSA hasn’t been able to actually show how any of these programs were essential in stopping a terrorist attack on the US.

Having followed pretty closely what the Snowden docs have revealed, it’s not at all clear how any of it would actually make it more difficult for the NSA to do its job. It basically revealed that they’re tapping a bunch of things that most people realized weren’t particularly secure in the first place.

For all the talk of having a “serious debate” on these issues, it would help a lot of Keith Alexander and James Clapper dropped the whole “you’re all going to die” charade. No one’s buying it.

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Comments on “Keith Alexander Still Playing Bogus Fear Card: 'People Will Die' Because Of Snowden Leaks”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What of effects of weakened crypto?

In making it easier to spy on it’s own citizens, it is also easier for others to do the same.
Identity theft, cyberfraud/loss of savings are just two examples. How about weakened crypto standards also making it easier for foreign government hackers to get in to our government systems for those precious ‘secrets’ that put lives at risk?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Costas Tsalikidis? Adamo Bove?

You mean like Costas Tsalikidis?

Is someone murdering people who know too much about NSA wiretapping overseas?

Two whistleblowers — one in Italy, one in Greece — uncovered a secret bugging system installed in cell phones around the world. Both met with untimely ends. The resultant scandals have received little press in the United States, despite the profound implications for American critics of the Bush administration.

Last month, Italian telecommunications security expert Adamo Bove either leapt or was pushed from a freeway overpass; he left no note and had no history of depression. Last year (March, 2005), Greek telecommunications expert Costas Tsalikidis met with a similarly enigmatic end. Both had uncovered American attempts to eavesdrop on government officials, anti-war activists, and private businessmen.

Anonymous Coward says:

… People will die because some will kill to keep the public in line. Some of those people get info from the NSA. The ones we need to fear already knew about these programs because they benefit from them. I’m sure we’ll have another false flag incident shortly either way… Or maybe they will just gun another unarmed citizen down as she tries to run away on foot. RIP Mariam Carey. You didn’t deserve what they did to you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s face facts: the NSA cannot and will not stop all attacks. It totally missed the Boston Marathon bombing, for example,

If he Wants to blame Ed Snowden for future deaths, perhaps he should accept some responsibility for the deaths in the Boston bombing. Strong warning had been received about one of the bombers becoming radicalised.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Define 'job'

Having followed pretty closely what the Snowden docs have revealed, it’s not at all clear how any of it would actually make it more difficult for the NSA to do its job.

If you go off of their stated purpose, that of stopping and catching terrorists, no, the leaks will probably not have much of an affect at all, for the simple fact that any person or group smart enough to be an actual threat is likely already doing everything they can to stay off the official radar, going as low-tech as possible whenever they can, which is something the NSA’s activities are helpless to stop.

However, the mass surveillance of innocent citizens both american and otherwise, the building of massive databases to store, index, and catalog that information, skirting, bending or outright breaking the laws… those parts of their ‘job’ will very much be complicated by Snowden’s actions, and rightly so.

Also, I can’t help but get a sense of deja vu with the ‘people are going do die!’ fear-mongering, as I could have sworn I heard the Exact. Same. Thing regarding the Manning leaks, and yet despite looking for the three years it took for Manning to actually be tried, by the time court rolled around they couldn’t find a single death they could tie to Manning’s actions, not a single ‘smoking gun’ they could point to and tell the court ‘See, we said the release of so much classified information would result in deaths, and there they are!’ Instead, they had a big fat nothing.

But hey, I’m sure this time the claims of imminent deaths caused by a whistlblower’s actions are based on facts, rather than attempts to scare people. /s

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Define 'job'

To be fair, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few CIA assets ended up on the wrong end of a gun/sword held by their fellow Taliban/al Qaida/enemy of the day because of the Manning leaks, especially considering that Wikileaks didn’t lift a finger to try and to protect the identities of anyone named in the cables they dumped on the net for everyone to read at their own leisure.

‘course, the US couldn’t acknowledge that the people who died as a result of the Manning ‘cablegate’ leaks were actually assets of the CIA/-insert alphabet soup agency here-, because that would mean we’d have to admit that CIA was operating in hostile countries such as Iran or North Korea.

But the NSA leaks, which are being released in a responsible fashion and not dumped onto the web in an unredacted form like a huge game of 52-card pickup (thanks wikileaks), resulting in people dying because of those leaks? Possible, but extremely unlikely.

rick f says:

nobody believes it anymore?

I beg to differ. The folks in Congress believe whatever is presented to them by Clapper, Alexandar, Baker, — especially the chairs/vice-chairs of the intel committees.

DIRNSA says ZMGTERRORISTS, ADAPT and they’ll back him to the hilt because they’re clueless about risk analysis and prefer not to look ‘soft’ on terrorism or ‘protecting the homeland.’

Does Congress realize the bad guys adapted years ago? Not likely. They just want to keep the homeland industrial complex chugging along based on their own arrogance and believing only what is told to them in classified hearings.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Mr. Alexander here is something to consider...

In your insane charge to stop terrorism, do you understand that you have become the terrorist?

You tell everyone about these horrible things that will happen unless you get your way.
“Terrorists” issue threats warning of dire consequences unless they get their way.

You have destroyed the most basic fundamental rights of the citizens you claim to protect… and still try to pretend we did not somehow walk into a mirror universe where this nation has not called out other countries for this exact same pattern of abuse of its citizens.

All of this time, effort, money has been wasted… throwing more money and removing more rights from citizens will not salvage it.
This needs to end. Cooler heads need to prevail.
Now why don’t you just retire to your nice consulting gig that you have lined up with one of the beneficiaries of this boondoggle.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: In other news

Oh that is just too good, glad to see his actions receiving recognition like that, and if Alexander was indeed filled in on Snowden being awarded that, it would certainly explain why he’d be doing his utmost to destroy Snowden’s name and image with the fear-mongering.

A quote I found particularly insightful from that article:

?Tyrants slandering patriots is nothing new. History decided that Franklin was a patriot. It was not so kind to the Hutchinsons and Wedderburns. History will decide who the patriots were in the 21st century as well. It will not be concerned with health care programs or unemployment rates. More likely, it will be concerned with who attacked the fundamental principles of freedom and who risked everything to defend them.?

Tom says:

Keith Alexander has forgotten the history of this country, if he ever knew it. There was a time when the words “Give me liberty, or give me death,” helped lead the original colonies into war with their oppressive government. Since that time vast numbers of Americans have died doing their best to ensure that liberty for themselves and future generations.

Now, using exaggerated threats of death due to terrorism, Alexander and others in our government are using America’s fears to try and silently steal away far more of our liberties than any threat we have faced since the revolutionary war. The liberties of 300 million Americans are at stake, and I personally hope to live long enough to see those Americans rise up again and say, “give me liberty or give me death,” as they throw down the oppressors and traitors whom they’ve given control of their future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Alexander, Clapper, the NSA, the CIA, the (Fill in the blank) are certainly persons and organization that constantly serve as sources of amusement here and other medial outlets. At times it seems as if they are believed to the anachronisms having nothing better to do than lay waste to the privacy interests of US citizens.

I make no apologies for what appear to be possible excesses, but it does seem as if here and other media outlets very little, if any, reporting is made about the entirety of their respective missions and their achievements in carrying out the entirety of such missions. Of course, assessments is complicated by the fact that in the “black world” stone faced silence is the norm, and not the rule. It seems that exceptions arise most typically when an individual is able to score political points.

Since this site seems to focus only on weaknesses and not strengths, perhaps it would be useful to sponsor a debate between the principals here and other sites critical of these organizations with representatives from those organizations being criticized unmercifully. If nothing else, it would at least prove to be a learning experience where such representatives could be informed in great detail where they are blowing it, why, and what they need to do to cure all the ills that give rise to the lambasting they regularly receive.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

If you are so sure that they have been treated unfairly by the various media outlets willing to report on this story, then by all means: provide the opposing points. Whining about unfair representation will be ignored. Debate will be engaged in.


What they need to do to win public sympathy is dismantle all bulk data collections, declassify all documents regarding those collections and confess to committing abuses of their power. Then we can talk about whether or not we are willing to allow them to continue wielding that power.

Somehow, I rather quite expect them to continue on their current strategy of attempting to get minimal additional oversight that they can easily subvert while playing up how upset they are with even that in order to lull the public into believing they have lost. I don’t really blame them for doing so, considering what they stand to lose in this debate. One can’t really expect them to be better than any other proto-tyrant, after all.


Capt ICE Enforcer says:


Wasn’t it the US government who condemned foreign governments for doing this sorta stuff, stealing individual liberties, torture, no due process, spying on everone and evereverything and trying to turn everyone against each other. Before we would liberate them. I wonder when other nations are going to liberate us from our evil oppressive government .

Greevar (profile) says:

They should just admit the truth we already know...

The NSA isn’t hunting terrorists, they’re hunting dissent among the citizenry. They are tapping us all so they can watch for people organizing a revolt against the people in power. This smacks of an attempt to keep the serfs under watch so they don’t come to their senses and toss their lords out on their asses. Capitalism and representative republic is just a revised version of feudalism that creates an illusion of upward mobility so that people are too busy chasing a rags to riches fantasy to notice how they’re being used.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

He didn’t word it right to convey a threat of that nature. They are playing for an empty loss, where they are “beaten” but don’t actually lose any of their capabilities. This grandstanding serves the dual purpose of preparing for a very public sore loser and attempting to drum up support against those who are backing laws with actual impact.

Gen Alexander is their scapegoat.

Anonymous Coward says:

The NSA had no great discoveries when it came to locating Bin Laden. That was before all the news got out about the Snowden leaks. No one knew everyone was being spied on then as far as the public went. They had suspicions but no real proof.

The terrorists already knew they were being monitored. They already knew how to get around it. They already knew how to get a false warning out to shake up the US officials and frequently did so. You often heard of ‘unverified reports’, enough so that the Al Quedia had a pretty good road map of what to avoid for security and what to use to get the ‘Great Satan’ to waste more money on defense.

The only one the NSA was fooling was the public and themselves. Those officials representing the NSA have chosen to lie and get caught in those lies too many times. The public gets it, they can’t trust these same individuals to tell the truth and pretty much when their mouths move they are lying.

So suddenly, we should just trust they have our best interests at heart? Not a friggin’ chance. Especially if the public ever gets fired up about the treatment that the whistle blowers get as just being plain wrong.

I also find this business of ‘enemy of the state’ has been taken too far. Mainly because some in government insist on being able to do things they know is against the intent and purpose of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It has reached the point the public no longer trusts the government and here it dang sure should reserve that trust for more deserving candidates than those now in power.

Me says:

The myopic stupidity of Alexander & Co is astounding. They have made our country WEAKER, not stronger. They have put at risk the digital lives of virtually every American (and many around the world), put our companies and industries at risk of attack and theft, and undermined trust in democratic institutions to represent and defend the people, rather than seeing those people as adversaries.

When history is written about this period, the “bad guys” are here at home.

Bob DeVaughn says:

It happens

pNot to be cynical, but People die all the time. The fact that people have YET to die as a result of Snowden’s leaks and the significant number of government officials- representatives and FISA court judges- who have pointed out their ignorance of the NSA’s continued abuses is enough for me to essentially exonerate Snowden of any fault should it happen in the future.

In fact, if someone dies as a result of Snowden’s leaks, I will blame the NSA, for compelling Snowden to make the leaks that would supposedly have gotten them killed. If they weren’t breaking the law, and violating the constitution, the interests of the people they put in harms way would never have run against the interests of the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

How many people will die? Is it more than from cops? Cause they still kill far more people in the US than terrorists. (At least terrorists don’t also shoot dogs).

Or is it more than auto accidents? Well, that’s not possible.

Will it be more people than we’ve hit with drones? Is that the number?

Or will it be effectively zero, because pulling off a terrorist attack is actually kind of difficult, and giant piles of data (while useful in forensic applications after the fact) are not particularly useful at detecting things before they happen…

I’m far more afraid of my government than ‘terrorism’. Terrorists don’t have any power over me. The government does.

Tell me again how many people will die because Snowden raised an alarm?


ED SKI says:

Snowden Leaks

when people complain about illegal NSA incasion of privacy, the response is ‘ well, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about’. now the shoe is on the other foot and whenever a whistleblower reveals more illegal activity by the snooper agencies, they scream ‘terrorist’. what’s good for the goose , is good for the gander: so obama, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.

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