NSA Chief Defends Collecting Americans’ Phone Records

Blames Media for Growing Public Opposition to Surveillance

In comments today at a cybersecurity summit, NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander reiterated his opposition to limiting the agency’s surveillance scope, saying that the collection of all Americans’ phone records had proven “helpful” at times and should continue.

The “helpfulness” example Alexander provided was the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year, as he claimed that the ability to look up all Americans’ phone records allowed them to determine that there was no plot to follow up with an attack in New York. Of course there was no real reason to think there was in the first place.

Alexander went on to angrily condemn the media for fueling public opposition to the surveillance with “sensationalized” reports, and said it was vital for the government to convince the Americans “why we need these tools.”

The general has repeatedly defended domestic surveillance as a “noble” endeavor and insisted that Americans should be comforted by the fact that it is “perfectly legal.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.