Keith Alexander, On Stage While Story Of NSA Infiltrations Breaks, Tries To Mislead With Response

from the servers-or-datacenter dept

In an interesting bit of timing, just as the Washington Post was breaking the news that the NSA had infiltrated Google and Yahoo’s cloud data by hacking into the (stupidly) unencrypted data links between data centers, it turned out that NSA boss Keith Alexander was on stage at a Bloomberg Government Cybersecurity conference. He was asked about the report, and he tried to tap dance around it by claiming the NSA doesn’t have access to Yahoo and Google’s servers. The Guardian has a brief summary:

Alexander, asked about the Post report, denied it. “Not to my knowledge, that’s never happened,” the NSA director said, before reiterating an earlier denial Prism gave the NSA direct access to the servers of its internet service provider partners.

“Everything we do with those companies that work with us, they are compelled to work with us,” Alexander said. “These are specific requirements that come from a court order. This is not the NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that. So I don’t know what the report is, but I can tell you factually: we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers, dot-dot-dot. We go through a court order.”

But, of course, in typical Alexander fashion, he’s choosing his words carefully — and thankfully people can more easily see through it at this point, since they’re getting so used to it. The report didn’t say they were accessing those companies’ servers or databases, but rather hacking into the network connection between their data centers. That’s like a report breaking of the NSA hijacking armored cars with cash, and Alexander claiming “we didn’t break into the bank.” Nice try.

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Companies: google, yahoo

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Comments on “Keith Alexander, On Stage While Story Of NSA Infiltrations Breaks, Tries To Mislead With Response”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Blurring the original story. The WashPost story still says:

“The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.”

“claiming the NSA doesn’t have access to Yahoo and Google’s servers.” — Actually, that’s what Google and Yahoo claim. — PFFFT! Just self-serving LIES.

I’d say this new bit is mix of distancing the corporate co-conspirators and confusing all with random who said what when.

But in any case, it’s just another TRIVIAL bit of fluff. Where is Mike calling for indictments?

Google defenders are much like NSA defenders: basically blind to privacy, just insist over objections to being spied on: “we’re only helping and you should be grateful!”.


out_of_the_blue (profile) says:

Re: Blurring the original story. The WashPost story still says:

Why aren’t I calling for indictments? I’m the lone hero on Techdirt, why aren’t I shouting for people to be thrown in the slammer?
Can someone tell me why I’m so afraid of Google spying on me? I wake up in a cold sweat every night, my dreams haunted by a six letter multi-colored word. There is no way to be free of the…in fact I can’t even THINK the word now, the colly-wobbles it gives me are that bad. After all, the…G…thing IS the Internet, it’s the tubes that tie everything together.
Techdirt, the place that has quite a few anti-Google articles but is still somehow pro-Google.


Brandt Hardin (user link) says:

Living in a Society of Fear

The dystopian fantasies of yesteryear are now a reality. We?ve allowed the coming of an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We?ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we?re waging war against ourselves at

Anonymous Coward says:

This is another page right out of the play book of the NSA. Just like with congressional oversight, do you notice a very similar method of 20 questions?

You ask if something happens, the answer is ‘not under this program’. However you don’t get to ask the next lead in question such as ‘under what program does it happen’. So we’ve gone from 20 questions to one.

I am yet to hear honest answers to honest questions and that is why the NSA has to be reigned in. There is no meaningful oversight, no meaningful abeyance to the Constitution, and no one is holding them in check from doing what ever it is they have a mind to do.

It is time to gut this agency. It is time to establish new guidelines and new leadership through out it.

John says:

Spying on Google & Yahoo

So the NSA is actually spying on Google & Yahoo – both US companies – to get to spy on their customers. I wonder if they?ve used any of the economic intelligence and internal communications against Google, in either business dealings or federal legal action against them. (Remember the NSA has been helping out federal prosecutors with evidence wihout the source being revealed during the legal action).

Anonymous Coward says:

Proof GCHQ and NSA are tapping the Tran-Atlantic fiber-optic cables. GCHQ needs to pull their weight or their spy funding might suffer.

“Muscular/Incensor has significantly enhanced the amount of benefit that the NSA derives from our special source access,” one 2010 GCHQ document notes.

It adds that this highlights “the unique contribution we are now making to NSA, providing insights into some of their highest priority targets.”

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