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How Credible Are the Claims that Mass Surveillance Stops Terror Attacks?

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Washington’s Blog
June 14, 2013

We documented yesterday that top national security experts say that the government’s spying programsdon’t make us safer … and that spying leaks don’t harm America.

In reality, top experts have said again and again that spying had little or no role in stopping terror plots.

So why are some government officials claiming that the spying programs are protecting us … and that blowing the whistle leaves us vulnerable?

Let’s start with NSA boss Keith Alexander.  One of the leading journalists on the NSA – James Bamford –notes today at Wired that Alexander has a long history of lying, illegal action, and incompetence:

In 2001, Alexander was a one-star general in charge of the Army Intelligence and Security Command, the military’s worldwide network of 10,700 spies and eavesdroppers. In March of that year he told his hometown Syracuse newspaper that his job was to discover threats to the country. “We have to stay out in front of our adversary,” Alexander said. “It’s a chess game, and you don’t want to lose this one.” But just six months later, Alexander and the rest of the American intelligence community suffered a devastating defeat when they were surprised by the attacks on 9/11.

Given the insane amount of information that American intelligence had about the planned 9/11 attacks well ahead of time (herehere and here), Alexander should have been fired.

Alexander was also guy who originally instituted illegal mass surveillance on Americans after 9/11

Following the assault, he ordered his Army intercept operators to begin illegally monitoring the phone calls and email of American citizens who had nothing to do with terrorism, including intimate calls between journalists and their spouses. Congress later gave retroactive immunity to the telecoms that assisted the government.

Two years later, Rumsfeld appointed Alexander—now a three-star general—director of the NSA, where he oversaw the illegal, warrantless wiretapping program while deceiving members of the House Intelligence Committee. In a publicly released letter to Alexander shortly after The New York Times exposed the program, US representative Rush Holt, a member of the committee, angrily took him to task for not being forthcoming about the wiretapping: “Your responses make a mockery of congressional oversight.”

(Alexander has repeatedly lied to Congress over spying).

Bamford also notes that Alexander was one of the main people responsible for the American torture program:

In 2003 Alexander, a favorite of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was named the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, the service’s most senior intelligence position.Among the units under his command were the military intelligence teams involved in the human rights abuses at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

And Alexander has also helped unleash the hounds of cyber-warfare:

Ironically, having helped create the market in zero-day exploits and then having launched the world into the era of cyberwar, Alexander now says the possibility of zero-day exploits falling into the wrong hands is his “greatest worry.”

Indeed, Bamford notes that Alexander wants the NSA to “own the net”, and to conduct massive offensivecyber-warfare against the rest of the world.

Then there’s Congressman Peter King. Not only is King a blowhard who basically thinks that all Muslims are terrorists, but he substantially supported the Irish Republican Army -  a designated terrorist group – for decades.

Then there’s Dianne Feinstein, the California Senator.  While  the San Francisco native pretends that she’s a liberal who is for the little guy, Feinstein:

  • - Has long pushed SOPA, PIPA and other anti-web privacy bills

Congressman Mike Rogers is the author of CISPA, which top security experts say is not needed … and would do more harm than good.

As top constitutional and military law expert Jonathan Turley notes, the current defenses of the spying program are nothing but butt-covering.

The entire spying program is exactly like the other major security boondoggles which are claimed to protect us, but which – according to the top experts – actually harm our national security:

They are being pushed because some people make huge bucks or gain political power … not because they are good for America.

As top NSA whistleblower William Binney told us in an interview last week, the people in charge of our intelligence programs are corrupt … and nothing will change until we clean house.

This article was posted: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 4:31 am





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