NSA Director Claims He's Protecting Americans' Privacy And Civil Liberties... By Spying On Them All

from the well,-uh,-huh? dept

NSA boss Keith Alexander continues to fail at damage control in response to the Snowden leaks, but he keeps on trying. The latest is an interview conducted with the NY Times in which he continues to babble on as if no one will ever call out his more ridiculous statements:
“We followed the law, we follow our policies, we self-report, we identify problems, we fix them,” he said. “And I think we do a great job, and we do, I think, more to protect people’s civil liberties and privacy than they’ll ever know.”
Yes, by collecting pretty much every bit of data they can on everyone. That protects their privacy and civil liberties? How? By trampling the 4th Amendment? I don't think so. The whole "self-report... identify problems" claim is also hogwash. As we've noted, many of that "self-reporting" came years after the fact, and it's almost certain that plenty of other abuses have never been caught or reported.

Then there's General Alexander trying to claim he supports more transparency and that the American people need to know what's going on. I know. Stop laughing. He really said it:
“Given where we are and all the issues that are on the table, I do feel it’s important to have a public, transparent discussion on cyber so that the American people know what’s going on,” General Alexander said. “And in order to have that, they need to understand the truth about what’s going on.”
Of course, in the very same interview he insisted that this discussion that we're now having has done "significant and irreversible damage" to national security. So... he wants to have an open discussion and tell people what's going on, but solely on his own terms, and if anyone else brings up anything, we're all at risk.
He insisted that it would have been impossible to have made public, in advance of the revelations by Mr. Snowden, the fact that the agency collected what it calls the “business records” of all telephone calls, and many other electronic communications, made in the United States.
Why? This is a serious question, because it wouldn't have been impossible at all. The government could have easily said (as they're trying to now after Snowden revealed it) that they're doing this in a manner that (they believe) doesn't compromise our privacy, and it's for a good reason. And then let us have a public debate to see if people believe you or if they think you're full of it. That's what transparency is about.

The NY Times actually does a decent job in some points highlighting the ridiculousness of Alexander's answers, such as with this tidbit:
But he said the agency had not told its story well. As an example, he said, the agency itself killed a program in 2011 that collected the metadata of about 1 percent of all of the e-mails sent in the United States. “We terminated it,” he said. “It was not operationally relevant to what we needed.”

However, until it was killed, the N.S.A. had repeatedly defended that program as vital in reports to Congress.
Yup. The same way they continue to insist the telephone records are "vital" despite not actually showing how they've been necessary in stopping a single terrorist attack on the US.

At this point, you have to wonder what Alexander thinks he's accomplishing with each of these interviews or talks. It just seems like this strained, repetitive "but, really, I'm not such a bad guy, you just have to trust me!!!" exclamation over and over again that doesn't give us any reason to actually trust him. In fact, nearly all of the evidence that's come out from Snowden has actually shown (over and over and over again) why Alexander shouldn't be trusted at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    Make FISA records of all american citizens public then we'll have access to the courts to challenge them. At that point, we will be able to verify ourselves. I trust that the intelligence community murders peaceful and generally law abiding americans. I trust that because they have been caught. I'm not speaking of NSA specifically, but cybercommand may. Other agencies have been caught and Obama admin thinks it can kill any american for any reason... Because terrorism and pirares and to protect children, except when they kill children. And to protect the public... Except when they lie to and kill the public. A good rule of thumb may be don't trust people that have threatened tp kill you if they feel like it.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:50am

    If the goal of spying is to stop any type of crime then when all crimes are stopped they will just create more crimes so they can control even more the lawful people.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:06am

    I keep hearing this thing about public debate. Omaba has said it, Alexander says it... so where is it? We've had since back in what, July to have this debate? So far what we hear is the Senate Oversight committee has to play 20 questions in hopes they ask the right one, then they turn around and claim what a great job the NSA is doing.

    But that is not what the Snowden articles are about is it? They are about abuse of privacy, about bullying those internet places that have access to communications, about secret courts making secret laws over secret acts, about corporate espionage (which I have yet to figure out where terrorism fits in that one), about hacking or setting up weaker security for items that are supposed to protect people so that they can break in easier, and about spying on anything that generates communication data, including collecting massive amounts of spam.

    Nothing in all that generates one iota of trust, in fact it damages much, much, beyond what it should have if Alexander was truthful in what he speaks of in this article.

    There is only one thing I am sure of at this point. Our government has gone amuck and no one is overseeing anything providing any sort of accountability to anyone except whistleblowers, whom it appears it is open season on.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:10am

    Emperor Alexander wants "transparency". Good one. Maybe after he's fired from the NSA he'll take up stand-up comedy. I'm sure there are plenty of things he can say about NSA with a straight face that people would laugh at.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:12am

    He is pretty transparent

    I mean, we can see through his lies and all.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:28am

    The only privacy being protected is the NSA's..

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:36am

    Re:

    I keep hearing this thing about public debate. Omaba has said it, Alexander says it... so where is it?

    Politics 101.
    Public Debate, Politicians standing up in public and telling the citizens what they will be doing to them.

    Terrorist, anybody who disagrees with, or argues with a politician or government official.

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:03am

    More white noise !!

    How do you do it ??

    I mean, hour after hour being able to constantly drone on about NSA? You're rapidly becoming a one trick pony on this one.

    Do you know what having a fixation means?

    I guess it's as good to drone on about your hatred for the Government and the NSA as any other subject next to no one cares about anymore.

    One day, when you call wolf the townies wont come and help you. They most certainly aren't listening to you now.

    Way too much noise, if no one cares now, do you think post after post on the subject is going to change that.

    How many minds have you changed ?? It's easy to convince your followers, apart from catering to their paranoia we are still waiting for you to make a point ??

    How many of your posts today will include the initials NSA ??
    Let me hazard a guess, MOST(if not all).

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:05am

    "One court to spy on them all, one subpoena to find them..." Sauron/K. Alexander

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:16am

    Re:

    "corporate espionage (which I have yet to figure out where terrorism fits in that one)"

    Its not terrorism but it gets lumped in at the will of the corporate paymasters.

     

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  11.  
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    Valis (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:57am

    Law enforcement worse than terrorists.

    You are six times more likely to be killed by a police officer in the US than by a terrorist. So why are they not sending in SEAL teams to assasinate police officers in the US? Why are they not bombing their children's schools? Why are they not sending in drones to blow up their weddings? Bunch of hypocrites!

     

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  12.  
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    Zem, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:14am

    He tells the truth

    Being protected from terrorism = there is no terrorism.

    Protecting your freedom = THERE IS NO FREEDOM

    QED

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:25am

    Re: More white noise !!

    It's almost like THIS SHIT IS IMPORTANT! People do care sadly not enough to make changes yet but the idea behind speaking about the issue is to change that.

     

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  14.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:29am

    Re: Law enforcement worse than terrorists.

    "You are six times more likely to be killed by a police officer in the US than by a terrorist."
    Not that I doubt this. But could you provide a cite to this please?

    After all, 98% of all statistics are made up on the spot. (c) (TM)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:30am

    Re:

    Stopping all crimes is impossible for multiple reasons not the least of which is the fact that they are in fact committing crimes in order to accomplish the goal.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:38am

    Re: More white noise !!

    darryl just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:40am

    Michael Hastings report?

    Well now we know the extent of the records, the NSA must have files on Michael Hastings in the 'lockbox'.

    If you recall Michael Hastings was a Rolling Stone journalist that died this year when his car accelerated to its top speed and crashed.

    He was investigating something and just a few hours earlier had contacted a Wikileaks lawyer, and a friend of his to say he'd be going off grid for a while working on a big story. So the timing was suspicious.

    The Coroner declared no foul play and sent the body back cremated, against the wishes of the family. Cremation closes down that avenue of investigation, but now we know the NSA is spying on everyone, they must have a lot of files about Hastings.

    They must have his emails, phone calls data, buddy lists, phone location, his log in data, any hacks on his home network, any hacks on his car computer and a bunch of other surveillance stuff. Likewise the stuff he gave to his lawyer as a safeguard, they'd have intercepted that.

    I think at this point the courts should start demanding these files. The NSA has illegally obtained the data, so the courts must be able to compel disclosure.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:48am

    Re:

    Public debate is happening whether they like it or not. What they want is to be able to spin and control it which they have not been able to do. The public is debating it and they are handily losing that debate. The sooner that they realize and accept that the better. Unfortunately ill gotten power is a powerful elixir that warps perception and the ability to think rationally for a very long time. It is time to treat these people like the addicts that they are. Perhaps, as with many addicts, the only way they will come to their senses is to bottom out.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:14am

    and this and other megalomaniacs expect the people to be stupid enough to fall for his crap? get outta here!!

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    In order to protect your rights, they must be taken away.
    Brilliant !

     

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  21.  
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    btrussell (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:50am

    "...we self-report..."

    Shouldn't we allow all criminals this luxury?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Re:

    Banks protect your money by holding onto it for you. I don't see why the NSA can't do the same thing with your rights and liberties.

     

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  23.  
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    Transmitte (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 6:39am

    He's busted and he knows it yet keeps trying to explain his way out of the hole he keeps digging deeper.

    WTG Alexikov the Kollector!

     

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  24.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 6:40am

    The NSA needs a new sales pitch

    The NSA should use this line to rationalize and justify it's spying on all Americans.

    The NSA is not engaged in racial profiling. Nor is it profiling people based on their gender. The NSA does not single people out based on their religious beliefs or lack thereof. True Americans(tm) who are supportive of whatever party currently is in power are never singled out for spying activities. Persons are never selected for spying based on their sexual orientation or gender identity because some of their conversations and messages make for more interesting listening and reading. The NSA does not single out people based on their national origin because the NSA is equally suspicious of you no matter where you or your ancestors were born.

    The NSA carefully follows all secret laws and secret interpretations of non secret laws. The NSA is carefully overseen by secret courts with secret judges and secret warrants and secret court rulings and findings. We can assure you that you will not hear of NSA arrests nor will you find the NSA holding or detaining people anywhere on American soil.

    In short, the NSA wants to reassure you that you have nothing to worry about. Everything is fine. Keep working. Pay your taxes. Be happy. Do not complain. Obey.

    The NSA is your friend. Trust the NSA.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    And I think we do a great job, and we do, I think, more to protect people’s civil liberties and privacy than they’ll ever know.

    So by pouring over all the emails / IM's / buddy lists and contacts / financial records / phone 'meta-data' of everyone in the United States without a warrant or due cause actually protects peoples civil liberties and privacy? How fucking stupid does he think people are?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    Re:

    The applicable words here are hubris and ego.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 7:38am

    Re: More white noise !!

    What I love is how many times Mike is accused of being a one trick pony on many different subjects.

    It's like... Mike is so good at so many tricks... he's like some sort of super Omni-Trick-Pony!

    Just slots in a new trick depending on what's hot in the news.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Given where we are and all the issues that are on the table, I do feel it’s important to have a public, transparent discussion on cyber so that the American people know what’s going on,” General Alexander said.

    We don't need to have a discussion; we already know what's going on. The NSA is a rogue agency spying on every American with an internet connection or phone. Even if the government or courts enable this wholesale snooping via legislature or law, it's still a violation of Constitutional law and is therefore illegal, not to mention immoral. Considering that the NSA hasn't prevented a single terrorist attack since their inception, I seriously question their true motives.

     

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

  29.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 9:04am

    NSA's new motto

    The National Security Agency: More Transparent Than You'll Ever Know

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re: He is pretty transparent

    So transparent in fact that we need him to define "protect" because we are all aware that his definition of words differs greatly from everyone elses.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Why is this guy still free? When are the arrests going to be made? What's the statute of limitations on the crimes committed? Do we have time to elect a new executive branch to enforce the law since the current one is not executing it's duties in this matter? Those are the questions I want answers to.

     

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

  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Law enforcement worse than terrorists.

    That statistic is wrong. You are actually 8 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. Your odds of being killed by a terrorist are 20,000,000 to one.

    These numbers were derived from the National Center for Health statistic and the Census Bureau. Here's a handy compilation from the National Safety Council: http://www.nsc.org/nsc_library/Documents/Odds%20of%20Dying%20From%20Graphic%202013%20ed.pdf

     

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  33.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re:

    A loose connection I remember is from when HSBC bank execs were in court over their bank being used to launder money for drug lords and Al'Qaeda.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/elizabeth-warren-hsbc-money-laundering-2013-3

     

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

  34.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re:

    One spy agency to bring them all and on the Internet...bind them.

     

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

  35.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Re: Michael Hastings report?

    What you mentioned brought to mind this episode of the anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    http://ghostintheshell.wikia.com/wiki/The_Visual_Device_will_Laugh

    Would not put it past the NSA to be working on the interceptors mentioned in that episode plotline and to secretly give it to the general populace.
    (similar scenario as what you wrote about happened in that episode. A cop found out that his own superiors were illegally monitoring his team via devices planted into their eyes, he tells an old buddy of his he's coming over with this information, but his superiors, wanting to silence him, cause him to crash).

     

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  36.  
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    Ferel (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re:

    In the original elvish inscription:

    ████████████` 08;██████████████ ;███
    ███████████& #9608;█████████████ 608;██
    ███████████π 8;██████████████ ███████
    ███████&# 9608;█████████████` 08;███

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Bad Analogy Guy to the rescue !, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes - very bad analogy indeed, keep up the good work.

    You choose to deposit your assets in the bank of your choice rather than put them in your mattress or bury them in your back yard ... this you claim is the same thing as the government revoking your rights (all of them) whilst claiming it is done to protect your rights. - This is beyond retarded.

     

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  38.  
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    btrussell (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Banks lend your money out for a price, generally called "interest."

     

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  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 17th, 2013 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    That's sarcasm, right?

     

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


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