The NSA House Intelligence Committee Hearing: Softballs and Beer


If you were wondering how the NSA and FBI felt about the very friendly hearing the House Intelligence Committee invited them to today, a hot mic has your answer. “Tell your boss,” NSA Director Keith Alexander told the FBI deputy director, “I owe him another friggin’ beer.”

Ben Doernberg caught the exchange, which we’ve clipped below. Alexander, being photographed at bottom center, is speaking with FBI deputy director Sean Joyce, to his left.

Throughout the hearing the two worked together, with Alexander frequently setting up topics upon which Joyce expounded. When Alexander said that the government’s surveillance tools had stopped over 50 terror attacks, Joyce described four of them. And so on. Over the course of three hours, the two faced little in the way of critique.

Nonetheless, they were ready for a brew. Their more informal exchange came after Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan banged the gavel.

The easy line of questioning combined with the post-hearing frivolity shows that our Representatives and the NSA are not taking this seriously.  We realize that national security involves surveillance but when that power is abused by individuals who are not held accountable for their actions, we get justifiably pissed. General Alexander could have discussed those thwarted plots all by himself instead of using Joyce as a sock puppet. Any agency director worth their salt doesn’t rely on cheesy theatrics.

The whole thing was a rehearsed dog and pony show.

I’m trying to give General Alexander the benefit of the doubt, but it’s getting harder as time goes on.

Edward Snowden’s revelation about the wide sweeping PRISM program was justified in that he hasn’t, so far, revealed specifics, nor did he go full traitor like Bradley Manning.  Snowden’s father appeared on Fox News and urged him “not to release any secrets that could constitute treason” and encouraged him to return to the U.S. and face the justice system. That’s something I’ve said from the beginning.  I would have more respect for Snowden if he had stuck around and stood up to the NSA instead of running.

Snowden’s comments about China put a dent in his credibility.  General Alexander’s honesty about the NSA’s intent and the protection of civil liberties just took a big hit.

It’s looking more and more like Snowden is just the lesser of two evils.

Related posts:
NSA Director Alexander: Surveillance Helped Prevent “Potential Terrorist Events” Over 50 Times Since 9/11

NSA ‘Mistakenly’ Intercepted Private Email and Phone Calls of Innocent Americans

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