NSA Insists It Doesn't Have 'The Ability' To Spy On American Emails, Texts, Etc.
from the are-they-just-lying? dept
The article appears to have caught the attention of Congress as well, with Rep. Hank Johnson directly asking NSA boss General Keith Alexander (who you may remember from his FUD warnings about Anonymous taking down power grids) about whether or not various points made in the article are true, and Alexander denies them all, insisting that the NSA has neither the technical nor the legal capabilities to capture and sift through communications from Americans.
Johnson does press Alexander a bit on the question of whether it's the legal or technical parts that are holding the NSA back, and Alexander repeats that they simply don't have the technical capabilities:
"We don’t have the technical insights in the United States. In other words, you have to have something to intercept, or some way of doing that either by going to a service provider with a warrant or you have to be collecting in that area. We’re not authorized to do that, nor do we have the equipment in the United States to collect that kind of information."There is a slight pause between "technical" and "insights" in the way he says it, as if he's searching for the proper word before choosing insights, but he later clearly says they don't have the equipment to do so -- which seems to contradict a ton of reports out there from pretty credible sources within the NSA.
As Ryan Singel writes at Wired:
It’s hard to tell here whether Alexander is parsing the questions closely, misspeaking or telling the truth. The heads of the intelligence service have a long tradition of misspeaking or telling untruths that advance their agenda. President George Bush himself on the re-election campaign trail said that no American had been wiretapped without a warrant, which was plainly false, according to numerous news stories and the government’s own admissions of the program.I know that the assumption many will make is that he's flat out lying, and that wouldn't surprise me, but I do wonder if he's trying to pick his words carefully to get around lying—or if he knows he's so protected that he can just say whatever he wants without much fear of ever being called on it.
In the aftermath of those half-truths, the Congress passed, and Bush signed into law, the FISA Amendments Act, which re-wrote the nation’s surveillance laws to give the NSA a much freer hand to wiretap American infrastructure wholesale.