The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for mass surveillance activities, Jason Leopold reports for Al Jazeera.
The talking points and suggested statements — obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request — are dated June 24, which is a couple of weeks after journalists began reporting on documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The “MEDIA LEAKS MASTER TPs” document begins with the subhead “Sound Bites that Resonate” and the statement: “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
There are 26 pages of talking points. We pulled some of the highlights:
“I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that were were not able to prevent.”
“NSA and its partners must make sure we connect the dots so that the nation is never attacked again like it was on 9/11.”
“NSA employees are acutely aware of the importance of the 4th amendment. We are ourselves, private citizens.”
“Public discussion of NSA’s tradecraft, or the tools that support its operations, provide insights that terrorists can and do use to hide their activities. This would be detrimental to national security.”
“Those who wish to do us harm now know how we counter their actions; this had done irreversible harm to our nation’s security.”
“From my perspective this is not a political debate, this is a national security issue.”
“These programs have helped prevent over 50 terrorist events since 9/11, while also carefully protecting civil liberties and privacy of our citizens.”
“Every time there are disclosures, it makes our job harder.”
Many of these, or a version have them, have been utilized by intelligence officials over the last four months.
As if on cue, just yesterday, in front of a congressional hearing, NSA Chief Keith Alexander wanted to speak “from the heart.”
He said: “How did we end up here? 9/11. Two-thousand nine-hundred and 90-six people were killed on 9/11. We all distinctly remember that. What I remember most is those firemen running up the stairs to save people, and then lose their lives.”
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