Quote of the Day: NSA Wants to Be Totally Open

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From Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, on its phone surveillance program:

We aren’t trying to hide it.

Really? You sure could have fooled me. In other NSA-related news, we learned a few new things today:

  • From Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “The vast majority of the records in the database are never accessed and are deleted after a period of five years. To look at or use the content of a call, a court warrant must be obtained.”
  • Gen. Alexander claimed in his testimony that the phone surveillance program had been instrumental in preventing “dozens” of terrorist attacks: “In particular, he cited the cases of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan American who pleaded guilty to planning suicide attacks in New York, and Pakistani American David C. Headley, who was arrested in 2009 for his role in a terrorist attack the year before in Mumbai, and who was plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that published a satirical cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.”
  • After a briefing, Rep. Loretta Sanchez said she was astounded: “What we learned in there is significantly more than what is out in the media today….I don’t know if there are other leaks, if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it’s the tip of the iceberg.
  • Whistleblower Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post that the U.S. is heavily involved in cyber warfare: “Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland. ‘We hack network backbones — like huge internet routers, basically — that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,’ he said.”

Aside from a bit of trash talking between Glenn Greenwald and Rep. Peter King, I think those are the main new nuggets of Big Brotherism in the news today.

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