Note to General Alexander: Stop digging, the hole is deep enough.
The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.
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.
……“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and committee chairman, told Gen. Alexander of the 54 cases that administration officials — including the general himself — have cited as the fruit of the NSA’s domestic snooping.
“These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all foiled,” he said.
……Mr. Leahy, who has been a chief critic of the NSA, asked Gen. Alexander to admit that only 13 of the 54 cases had any connection at all to the U.S., “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” Gen. Alexander replied in a departure from normal practice.
……In response to a follow-up question, Gen. Alexander also acknowledged that only one or perhaps two of even those 13 cases had been foiled with help from the NSA’s vast phone records database. The database contains so-called metadata — the numbers dialing and dialed, time and duration of call — for every phone call made in or to the U.S.
Your social media posts are under scrutiny.
The director of the National Security Agency says the agency collects data from social networks and other private databases to hunt terror suspects but is not using the information to build dossiers, or personal files, on Americans.
NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that not all social network searches are authorized by a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, but the agency’s actions are proper and audited internally.
Alexander called a recent New York Times report on the searches “inaccurate and wrong.” The Times report did not specifically cite dossiers, but said the NSA was exploiting huge collections of personal data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections. The Times said the private data includes bank, flight, GPS location and voting records.
As are your cell phone records.
Top U.S. intelligence officials are revealing more about their spying in an effort to defend the National Security Agency from charges that it has invaded the privacy of Americans on a mass scale. Yet the latest disclosure – the NSA tried to track Americans’ cellphone locations – has only added to the concerns of lawmakers.
NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander told Congress on Wednesday that his spy agency ran tests in 2010 and 2011 to see if it was technically possible to gather U.S. cell-site data, which can show where a cellphone user traveled. The information was never used, Alexander said, and the testing was reported to congressional intelligence committees.
……Director of National Intelligence James Clapper joined Alexander in testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed reforms to the NSA’s surveillance of phone and Internet usage around the world, exposed in June by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.
Congress is considering changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which some believe allows the NSA too much freedom in gathering U.S. phone and Internet data as part of spying on targets overseas. But neither spy chief spent much time discussing the proposed reforms. Instead, lawmakers questioned them about newly reported abuses.
“We only work within the law,” Clapper said. “On occasion, we’ve made mistakes, some quite significant. … Whenever we found such mistakes, we’ve reported, addressed and corrected them.”
That’s horseshit. The NSA continues to collect metadata on everyone, regardless.
And it stores that information for up to a full year.
The NSA is in rogue mode. General Alexander needs to stop it.