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NSA chief

NSA chief admits counterterrorism successes were vastly exaggerated to sell 'benefits' of spying on Americans

Thursday, October 17, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: NSA chief, counterterrorism, spying on Americans

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(NaturalNews) It was a startling admission that in another era would have sent shockwaves through the nation's capital and caused heads to roll, arrest warrants to be issued and been the subject of countless news broadcasts for days.

Earlier this month, the head of the National Security Agency admitted to lawmakers that officials have put out figures vastly overstating the number of counterterrorism successes linked to the government's warrantless bulk collection of Americans' phone records, putting another dent in the credibility of the Obama regime.

As reported by The Washington Times Oct. 2:

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA's huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two - far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

That's not just a goof, that's intentional misleading.

Alexander, along with other heads of intelligence, have practically begged lawmakers not to shut down the bulk collection of Americans' phone records, despite citizen ire over the unconstitutional government snooping programs - many of which were revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, now living in political asylum for the time being in Russia.

"There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., committee chairman, said to Alexander regarding the 54 cases that both he and administration officials have cited as the fruit of the NSA's domestic snooping.

"These weren't all plots and they weren't all foiled," Leahy added.

In a word, yes - we were lying about the numbers

The Vermont Democrat along with U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., who authored the USA Patriot Act, which the government says permits such bulk data collection, are currently working on legislation to curb that authority. For his part, Sensenbrenner has said that the spirit of the Patriot Act was not to hand government spy agencies that kind of unchecked, unbridled - and unconstitutional - authority.

More from the Times:

In a summary they floated to colleagues Wednesday, the men said they would end bulk collection and require the NSA to show that the data it is seeking are relevant to an authorized investigation and involve a foreign agent.

The two lawmakers also proposed a special advocacy office with appellate powers to be part of the proceedings in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and requiring the court to release secret opinions that lay out major interpretations of law.


Leahy, who has been a primary critic of the NSA, asked Alexander to admit that only 13 of the 54 cases the agency and government have cited had any connection whatsoever to the U.S. "Would you agree with that, yes or no?"

"Yes," Alexander replied, in what amounted to a departure from the normal practice of administration officials rarely answering simply "yes" or "no" to such questions.

The 'peace of mind' metric?

In a follow-up question, the Times reported, Alexander also said that only one and maybe two of the 13 cases were foiled due to the NSA's vast phone records database, which also contains so-called "metadata" - numbers dialing and dialed, time and duration of call, etc. - for every phone call made in or to the United States.

But James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, predictably downplayed the number of foiled plots as the primary metric for deciding on the overall success of the massive spying program.

"I think there's another metric here that's very important.... I would call it the 'peace of mind' metric," he said. According to the Times:

He explained that the agency also could use the database to satisfy itself that global terrorists abroad did not have connections or associates in the U.S., and that attackers like those at the Boston Marathon were not part of a wider international plot.

Obviously, the government's expansive and intrusive spying didn't identify the Boston Marathon bombing plot at all, so Clapper's pathetic "metric" excuse rings hollow. Still, Alexander's admission is the latest in a succession of recent, or recently revealed, lies about intelligence gathering by the Obama administration.

If only we had unlimited warrantless spying earlier...

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for once was a voice of sanity. He said during the hearing that the "lack of information" about the NSA's massive spying "frankly, scares people and causes distrust. It makes them distrust our government."

By comparison, establishment politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., haven't met an unconstitutional government spying program they didn't like. As if there were any way to disprove him, Graham ridiculously claimed that, had massive NSA spying been in place, 9/11 could have been prevented.

"I am here to tell the American people," he said, that if the metadata program had been in place, "the 19 hijackers who were here in the country, most of them in illegal status, talking to people abroad, we would have known what they were up to."

And yet, with the program in place - and red flags going up all over - the government couldn't stop two bombers in Boston.

Whatever you say, Lindsey.

Sources:

http://www.washingtontimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.foreignpolicy.com
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