The NSA had the powers Gen. Alexander talks of, yet they didn’t stop the Boston Marathon bombings, nor did they stop the Washington Navy Yard shootings, or the Sandy Hook shootings. He talks of preserving our civil liberties and our privacy while depriving us of both. Gen. Alexander and the NSA have no concern with the inalienable rights referred to in our Constitution, which is the Supreme Law of the Land. Perhaps he needs a special course on Constitutional law. He should resign, and the NSA must be watched more thoroughly than it has been in the past. If they can’t be controlled, they should be disbanded. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor.
This article comes from Press TV.
Collection of bulk phone records by US intelligence agencies is essential to preventing terrorist attacks and “wrong decisions” by Congress could curb this power, the head of the National Security Agency said.
“We need our nation to understand why we need these tools, and what those tools mean to civil liberties and privacy and what they mean to defending this country,” NSA Director General Keith Alexander said during a keynote speech at a security conference in Washington on Wednesday.
Bulk phone records were used to determine if there was a threat to New York City in the aftermath of the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon, as well as to determine if there were terrorist plots against US embassies abroad during the summer, Alexander said in an interview after his speech.
“Somebody who has a database that can look at the foreign and the domestic numbers can look at those and get the information back quickly can tell you where there’s a threat and where there’s not,” Alexander said. He declined to discuss details about the cases.
The NSA is facing a backlash from some lawmakers and privacy advocates over abuses in spy programs exposed by former government contractor Edward Snowden and in documents recently declassified by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Alexander pleaded for support of NSA programs during his speech at the conference, which was attended primarily by government and industry officials specializing in cybersecurity.
“We can’t do that without your help,” he said. “That’s my ask of you.”
In particular, Alexander said the agency needs to collect bulk phone metadata, such as numbers dialed and call durations, to connect intelligence dots.
Alexander said it’s “flat wrong” that NSA analysts have been listening to all phone calls of Americans or reading citizens’ emails.
He said analysts who were found to have committed 12 intentional abuses within the past 10 years have been punished or left the agency.
“Congress is back in session. This is going to pick up,” Alexander said. “The American people have to weigh in and get the tools we need to protect this country and defend our civil liberties and privacy.”
Alexander also warned that a terrorist attack similar to the mall shooting in Nairobi, Kenya, last week could occur in the US if NSA authorities are curbed.
Snowden fled the US after releasing classified data to media outlets and is currently in Russia on temporary asylum. Salon.com
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