National Security Agency Chief Keith Alexander said he would prefer to “take the beatings” from the public and in the media “than to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked,” during his hearing in front of the House intelligence committee today.
This photobomb by Madea Benjamin of CodePink sums up the “beating” the NSA has taken over the last few months, more or less as a result of the Snowden/Greenwald partnership.
It’s hard to understand just how effective a highly secret spying program has been in terms of prevention — Alexander claimed 54 foiled terrorist attacks, ProPublica broke down the lack of evidence for those attacks.
Aside from the public “beating,” the photo also shows a prevailing public sentiment since the Snowden disclosures — that somehow all spying is bad.
The most recent uproar following disclosures about the bugging of embassies and world leaders is a case in point. Not only did Merkel opt to use an insecure personal line, her furor is couched by her past import of and cooperation with NSA programs.
“If you’re going to use an unsecured cell phone, you’re going to be listened to,” said Frederick Forsyth, a thriller writer and former Reuters correspondent in East Berlin, who himself does not use a computer or a cell phone, to Reuters. “The idea that listening to one’s ally is something new is complete nonsense.”
In fact, it’s nothing new at all — Sun Tzu, famed Chinese military strategist, said “we cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbours” about spies and allies … in 500 B.C.
Even the most recent reporting out of France’s Le Monde about NSA spying on common European citizens is now being challenged by reporting of the WSJ.
U.S. intelligence officials studied the document published by Le Monde and have determined that it wasn’t assembled by the NSA. Rather, the document appears to be a slide that was assembled based on NSA data received from French intelligence, a U.S. official said.
“The assertions by reporters in France, Spain and Italy that NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls are completely false,” Alexander said during the hearing. “Both they and the person who stole the classified data did not understand what they were looking at.”
They also seem to not understand the distinction between gathering foreign intelligence signals — a congressional charge upon which the NSA was built — and illegal scooping of domestic signals, a practice which human rights lawyers say the 4th Amendment should block.
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