The Washington Post published a story about how the NSA's mission was to spy on every American, in their words to “collect it all,” and then ran an op-ed the next day defending the surveillance state.
The Washington Post ran a lengthy profile of NSA Director Keith B. Alexander on July 14, summarizing Alexander's philosophy with the phrase, “Collect it all.” A July 15 op-ed by Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane suggested that “the United States needs to engage in data collection on a wide scale, both at home and abroad.”
The original NSA profile piece explained the origins of Alexander's unconstitutional surveillance state during the Iraq War, explaining that it began as an attempt to gather war-related intelligence from foreigners: “The NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, wanted more than mere snippets. He wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.”
Alexander, the director of the NSA since 2005, was also appointed head of the U.S. Cyber Command in 2010, giving him responsibility for defense of U.S. domestic computers from hacking and cyber warfare. In other words, it gave the former Army general cover to spy on Americans. The Washington Post summed up Alexander's view of intelligence, in the words of an anonymous intelligence official, this way: “Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack.... Collect it all, tag it, store it.... And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.” The Post also quoted whistleblower and former NSA official Thomas Drake that the NSA policy is a “complete evisceration of our civil liberties.”
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