Puppet Master Keith Alexander

NSA director Keith Alexander defends surveillance tactics in speech to hackers

The director of the National Security Agency has tried to dampen the current outcry over US government surveillance programmes by insisting such programmes respect Americans’ privacy. He also said that he is unable to intercept his own daughters’ emails.

General Keith Alexander told a conference of hackers on Wednesday that extensive surveillance had disrupted dozens of terrorist attacks but that technical and policy restrictions protected the privacy of ordinary Americans.

“The assumption is our people are just out there wheeling and dealing. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have tremendous oversight over these programmes. We can audit the actions of our people 100%, and we do that,” he said.

Addressing the Black Hat convention in Las Vegas, an annual gathering for the information security industry, he gave a personal example: “I have four daughters. Can I go and intercept their emails? No. The technical limitations are in there.” Should anyone in the NSA try to circumvent that, in defiance of policy, they would be held accountable, he said: “There is 100% audibility.” Only 35 NSA analysts had the authority to query a database of US phone records, he said.

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1 Response to Puppet Master Keith Alexander

  1. Catherine says:

    I am not the brightest person around but I can think more than one step ahead and I do have some knowledge of history and some understanding of human nature. Below are my thoughts about the remarks made by Gen Alexander, the NSA and our God-given & Constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy.

    Regarding technical limitations prevent reading our emails, Gen Alexander says:
    “Should anyone in the NSA try to circumvent that, in defiance of policy, they would be held accountable, he said: “There is 100% audibility.” Only 35 NSA analysts had the authority to query a database of US phone records, he said. “

    My response: Well, of course they would be held accountable IF they are defying policy. But policies change. Today’s official policy may not be the official policy of tomorrow. And there probably is a whole lot of unofficial policy floating around. These NSA analysts could be used as a sacrificial lamb if the TBTB decided they need one to cover-up something And please note the word “had” is past tense.

    Regarding “We can audit the actions of our people 100%, and we do that,” he said.”

    My response: Big deal. So what. See my comment above.

    Regarding “General Alexander said NSA operatives worked under strict controls, including oversight by Congress, the executive and judges on the Fisa court, which he said was a tough watchdog:”

    My response: Gee whiz, somehow or another, I don’t find it comforting to know that oversight is being performed by Congress, the executive and judges on the Fisa court. Tough watchdog. Yeah, sure, they’re watching and approving.

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