NSA: No better way to protect US than surveillance

Dec 11, 2013 by Lara Jakes
National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities" . (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The NSA chief said Wednesday he knows of no better way his agency can help protect the U.S. from foreign threats than with spy programs that collect billions of phone and Internet records from around the world.

Pleading with the Senate Judiciary Committee to not abolish the National Security Agency's bulk-collection programs, Gen. Keith Alexander warned that global threats are growing—specifically in Iraq and Syria—that pose what he called "an unacceptable risk" to America.

"How do we connect the dots?" Alexander said, referring to often-hidden links between a foreign terror threat and a potential attack on the U.S. "There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots. ... Taking these programs off the table is absolutely not the thing to do."

The committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, said it was troubling that the government was sweeping up millions, if not billions, of Americans' records. He has proposed legislation to prohibit the NSA from the bulk collection of U.S. phone records, and said Wednesday that he was concerned that Americans' Internet records also were vacuumed up before the program ended in 2011. That program now focuses only on people who live outside the United States—which could include Americans living abroad.

Alexander acknowledged the privacy concerns that have dogged the NSA since leaker Edward Snowden revealed the programs in June. And he said the NSA was open to talking to technology companies for a better solution without compromising security.

From left; National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence General Counsel Robert Litt, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities" . (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

"It's like holding onto a hornet's nest," Alexander said. "We're getting stung."

But, "If we let this down I think we will have let the nation down," he said.

Leahy's proposal has broad bipartisan support, especially in the House, where it is being pushed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican, who was the chief congressional architect of laws that gave the government broad surveillance powers in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks against the U.S.

But lawmakers who oversee U.S. intelligence agencies have proposed more modest reforms that call for greater oversight of the NSA and the creation of penalties for people who access classified information without authorization. Their plan has the support of most congressional leaders and Obama administration officials who are resisting deep cuts to intelligence authorities.

The vast differences between the two proposals have so far stymied Congress from passing an NSA overhaul this year, despite dwindling public trust in U.S. systems that have underscored the demand for change. Additionally, Silicon Valley is escalating pressure on the White House to curb the surveillance programs. A coalition of eight major Internet companies lashed out on a website and in an open letter printed Monday in major newspapers as part of an effort by the companies to limit potential damage from the NSA revelations that threaten the technology industry's financial livelihood.

The coalition included Twitter Inc., LinkedIn Corp., AOL Inc., Google Inc., Apple Inc., Yahoo Inc., Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Together, the group is immersed in the lives of just about everyone who uses the Internet or a computing device.

Alexander took pains to underscore that the NSA is not listening in on Americans' phone calls or reading their Internet messages without court approval. Currently, the NSA is monitoring about 200 phone numbers for FBI scrutiny, compared with about 300 for all of 2012, Alexander said.

The American people have been told that all of their phone records are relevant to counterterror investigations," Leahy said. "Now they are told that all Internet metadata is also relevant, and apparently fair game for the NSA to collect. This legal interpretation is extraordinary."

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Humpty
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2013
Wow - 55 million people have died at the hands of Americans, sine ww2 - their death squads, their endless puppet regimes - the Shah of Iraq, Pinochet, The Khazi reigem in Afghanistan, The United Fruit Co, Central and American wars, the wars against Iran and Iraq, shooting depleted uranium munitions, selling weapons to both sides and playing them off against each other....

What We Can Learn From Terrorists

http://www.abc.ne...1128.htm

Tariq Ali argues that terrorists have changed the world in ways that serve their own religious, political and ideological aims. They've forced the West to compromise on the very foundations of liberal democracy and wind back hard-won freedoms in the name of security.
Speaking at the recent Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Ali provocatively suggests that the terrorists' actions pale in comparison to the West's retributive "Wars on Terror". In fact he calls these wars "State Terrorism" of which the cruel backlash has been
Humpty
3 / 5 (4) Dec 11, 2013
The NSA - it's just nazi USA and it's murderous capitalist system, wiping out everyone and everything until there is nothing left to destroy except it's self.
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2013
I just can't get worked up about all this purported NSA surveillance.

When considered in the context of all the groups that are engaged in gathering information about me, and how they might be using that information in ways that aren't in my best interests (like the whinging Twitter, Facebook, etc.), the NSA hardly rates.
COCO
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2013
How about stop invading anyone with resources? The insane Amerikan foreign policy continues to amaze at the depths of stupidity - watch out for another 911 attack to re-galvanize the sheeple in support of endless wars.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2013
How about stop invading
Sheeple in other countries cause these wars by listening to their phony gods and forcing their women to do nothing else but make babies until it kills them.

Then when these kids grow up with nothing to do and no food to eat, their religions tell them it is the fault of the infidel next door. The kids are given guns and told to take more holy land and resources away from its rightful owners.

These owners are our allies. We support their efforts to survive. And obviously if we werent fighting these desperate hordes overseas then we would soon be fighting them HERE.
terrorists have changed the world in ways that serve their own religious, political and ideological aims
Leaders on both sides are working to eliminate horde leaders by tricking them into exposing themselves. One way is to convince them they have a chance. This is what jane fonda was used for, right before the tet offensive and the total destruction of the viet cong.

Sheeple are so easy.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2013
"from humpys article;

"Speaking at the recent Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Ali provocatively suggests that the terrorists' actions pale in comparison to the West's retributive "Wars on Terror". In fact he calls these wars "State Terrorism" of which the cruel backlash has been an increase in the ranks of extremist organizations."

-You bet. Weve killed 1000s of al qaida terrorists. but this has not diminished their numbers in the least. How come?

Bin laden convinced huge numbers of hapless, desperate youths in pakistan and afghanistan that they actually had a chance to defeat the west. He gave them guns and marched them west and right into the guns of superior western forces.

Earlier the taliban and hussein both formed large armies and formed them into long, straight entrenchments out in the middle of nowhere, where they could conveniently be carpet-bombed into mush.
cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2013
Even earlier bin laden convinced muslim brotherhood radicals in egypt to rise up against mubabak. The result? Thousands were executed or thrown in prison.

So just who were the taliban and bin laden working for? Obviously their actions benefited the west and weakened their cause; that being a regional revolution with the intent of establishing a nuclear-armed islamist empire.

And lately we have seen a so-called arab spring, where the sheeple in numerous countries have been divided up into govt armies vs rebels, and set against each other for the purpose of expending them and their arms.

I would rather call this an arab fall, where the leaves all wither, fall from the trees, and die.

"1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." ecc3

-Those who can determine when, rule the world.
Protoplasmix
3 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2013
I can't seem to find the section in the supreme law of the land where it says, "These rights may be circumvented by a secret court during times of war against no specific country."

Here's an easy way to provide protection: partner with teachers, counselors, human resources, social workers, and law enforcement. Make sure they have everything they need to do their work and keep your eyes peeled for about 1% of the population who's predisposed to committing a violent crime that would fit a credible medical definition of terrorism. Have your foreign counterparts do likewise. Oh, and not lying would be—well, it would help keep people from thinking you might be in that aforementioned 1%.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Dec 16, 2013
Perhaps a change in foreign policy would be a "better way to protect the US"?