Politicians move to protect NSA surveillance as officials dodge questions, Wyden cites repeated deception
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
A significant conflict is brewing in Washington between those seeking to protect the rights of Americans and those seeking to protect the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA).
On one hand, some senators are pushing for legislation that would bring true reform to the NSA’s spying program while others are promoting legislation that would actually expand the surveillance powers.
Meanwhile, NSA officials are hardly being transparent. When lawmakers questioned officials about the NSA’s collection of Americans’ data on Thursday, their questions were never answered directly.
Even The Washington Post took notice of the glaring fact that NSA Director Keith Alexander dodged questions posed by senators.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was especially harsh on Alexander and the “intrusive, constitutionally flawed surveillance system” built by the NSA.
Wyden pointedly noted that “the leadership of NSA built an intelligence collection system that repeatedly deceived the American people.”
Indeed, the NSA misled the public by putting out a fact sheet with a “significant inaccuracy” in June.
One might add that the NSA also deceived other government entities, drastically undermining any possibility of real oversight.
Furthermore, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper blatantly lied about the surveillance programs while under oath, something for which he has never been held accountable.
While a few senators have presented some strong opposition to NSA surveillance, the fact is that the majority of those on the Senate Intelligence Committee continue to defend it.
As The New York Times reports, most of the senators on the committee “used the hearing on Thursday to largely defend the programs and criticize the disclosures.”
Sen. Saxy Chambliss (R-Ga.) claimed that “people could die” because of Edward Snowden’s leaks, according to the Times.
Chambliss also asked Alexander to describe the value of NSA surveillance.
“In my opinion, if we had had that prior to 9/11, we would have known about the plot,” Alexander said.
However, as the Times also points out, “Officials have struggled to identify terrorist attacks that would have been prevented by the call log program, which has existed in its current form since 2006.”
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Ore.) along with Wyden have openly questioned the claims about the system’s ability to foil terror plots.
“We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence,” the senators said in June.
Still, Alexander had no problem exploiting fear to justify the program.
Alexander “warned that if Congress hampers the NSA’s ability to gather information, it could allow for terrorist attacks in the United States similar to last week’s massacre in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya,” The Hill reported on Wednesday.
“If you take those [surveillance powers] away, think about the last week and what will happen in the future,” Alexander said. “If you think it’s bad now, wait until you get some of those things that happened in Nairobi.”
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