US spy chief defends 'noble' mission, denounces leaks (Update)

Sep 25, 2013 by Rob Lever

The head of the National Security Agency Wednesday defended US surveillance programs as part of a "noble" mission to protect the nation and said reports on them were "sensationalized."

"The future of this country depends on our ability to defend against cyber attacks and terrorist threats, and we need the tools to do it," said General Keith Alexander, chief of the NSA.

The agency heads the PRISM program and other vast data collection efforts revealed in recent months by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Alexander, speaking at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, said there have been relatively few terror attacks on US soil since September 11, 2001 despite growing threats around the world.

"This is not by accident. It's by a lot of hard work," he told the forum. "Twenty-two cryptologists lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're the heroes, not the (people behind) media leaks."

Alexander appealed to the public to support the surveillance effort, which is coming under scrutiny in Congress, and argued that the facts about the programs have been distorted.

"It's been sensationalized and inflamed in much of the reporting," he said.

"What's hyped up in a lot the reporting is that we are listening to your conversations, that we're reading your emails. That's not true... We understand our job is to defend this country. It's a noble mission."

Alexander repeated his assertion that more than 50 terrorist threats around the world have been foiled as a result of the intelligence gathered from the programs, which have been harshly criticized by US allies ranging from Germany to Brazil.

The thwarting of the attacks "would not have been possible without that capacity, and our allies have benefitted from that," he said.

The NSA has been in the center of a firestorm since the Snowden leaks which revealed wide-ranging programs which scoop up data on telephone calls and Internet activity.

On Snowden, Alexander did not mention him by name, simply calling him "the leaker," adding that "we trusted him and he betrayed our trust. That won't happen again. That doesn't make him a hero."

President Barack Obama has called on US intelligence agencies to release more classified documents to shed light on the spying effort, which he has defended as a legitimate bid to prevent terror attacks.

Alexander said US technology firms have been unfairly maligned in the reports.

These companies "are providing what the courts are directing them to provide. Our industry folks are taking a beating on this and it is wrong."

The comments came a day after stinging criticism of the programs from Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who heads the chamber's judiciary committee.

Leahy told a Washington forum that the program allowing "bulk collection of Americans' phone records must end" and other programs must see closer scrutiny.

"Congress did not enact FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) in order to give the government dragnet surveillance powers that could sweep in the data of countless innocent Americans," Leahy said, according to a copy of his remarks on his website.

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User comments : 4

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Rutzs
1.7 / 5 (11) Sep 25, 2013
What were cryptologists doing in in Iraq and Afghanastan?

Besides, they wouldn't have died if you didn't go there in the first place...
wavettore
1.7 / 5 (12) Sep 26, 2013
All that is happening is the prelude to the next big surprise. Since George H. Bush was CIA director, the US secret State agencies had played a double role to get to today when every person is constantly monitored by NSA and other agencies not to report information to the US Government but to feed with all data the embryo of a new superpower. In 1992 the ex CIA director was elected US President and allowed his own son, Neil Bush, to get away with the largest robbery of its time, the "Savings and Loans scandal". After a few years, his other son became US president, plotted the most infamous attack on US soil, 9/11, and consolidated for 8 years the interest of one family. At the present time, a group of Zionists, like a hidden parallel government, with George Bush still today at the head of secret services in the US, UK and Israel, is the destabilizing force behind most terror events and with classified information at disposal and a private army is plotting what now seems unthinkable ...
kochevnik
1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 26, 2013
It is a great thing that NSA is selling private to corporations. Perhaps soon the FSB will outsource espionage to Americans now that treason only applies to those who tell the truth?

Next step for USA puppet government is to carve up the Asian nations under the pretense that, being derived from colonies, they have no right to sovereign nationality but are merely states. As such, they are deserving targets for USA wars
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Sep 26, 2013
The head of the National Security Agency Wednesday defended US surveillance programs as part of a "noble" mission

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
But somehow I don't buy the 'noble' angle, because what they did flies in the face of all they decried as evil from other nations. Can't be noble when you do it and an 'act of war' when the others do it, can it?

Unless acts of war are noble these days. But somehow I can't get that to grok.

The future of this country depends on our ability to defend against cyber attacks and terrorist threats

Hyperbole.

Twenty-two cryptologists lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan

By his logic the Afghanis/Iraqis who killed them are noble, right? Since they defended their country against cyberattack.

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