In a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander (shown in photo) admitted that the Obama administration has been using misleading statistics in an effort to convince Americans that the NSA’s enormous domestic surveillance programs have protected them from terrorist attacks.
Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed much of the NSA’s snooping into Americans’ lives, including the fact that the agency is vacuuming up “metadata” on every telephone call in the United States, the Obama administration has mounted a vigorous defense of the NSA and its unconstitutional programs. First, the administration denied various aspects of Snowden’s revelations; such denials, however, have been repeatedly met with indisputable evidence that Snowden was telling the truth. Forced to concede that the NSA is indeed spying on Americans, the administration then fell back on the favored line of all totalitarians: Sure, we’re making Big Brother look like a piker, but it’s all about keeping Americans safe.
“We aren’t trying to hide it,” Alexander told the Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-June — news to Snowden, who was forced to seek asylum in Russia after the administration charged him with espionage. “We’re trying to protect America.”
At that time, according to the New York Times, Alexander mounted “a robust defense of the phone program,” claiming “that it had been critical in helping to prevent ‘dozens of terrorist attacks’ both in the United States and abroad.” Later that month he came up with an exact figure: 54 terrorist plots, he said, had been foiled by the phone program.
On August 1, however, NSA Deputy Director John Inglis told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, in fact, the metadata collection program had contributed to the discovery of just 13 domestic terrorist plots and was only critical in thwarting a single plot. He also acknowledged that the 54 plots allegedly foiled by the phone program included those allegedly prevented by the agency’s data-mining program, meaning that the administration was trying to make the phone program look more effective than it actually is.
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