Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, testified before Congress on Wednesday defending their dragnet surveillance programs. Alexander contended that the data mined helped prevent “potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11,” a point that was then challenged by Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall – both of whom serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Sen. Wyden and Udall asserted that “all of the plots that [Alexander] mentioned appear to have been identified using other collection methods.”
A survey released today seems to confirm those suspicions. The New America Foundation paired up with Syracuse University’s Maxwell School to examine cases of “homegrown jihadist and non-jihadist” terrorism that have occurred since 9/11. The data shows that only in two cases is NSA surveillance responsible for helping to foil a suspected terrorist plot, while of the remaining 30 cases, at least 29 can be attributed to conventional policing. Peter Bergen, director of the New America Foundation wrote in his capacity as CNN’s national security analyst that, “traditional law enforcement methods have overwhelmingly played the most significant role in foiling terrorist attacks.”
With that argument having been thrown out the window, one wonders what rationalization the Obama administration might come up with next to justify their immense and overreaching surveillance apparatus.
Regarding Edward Snowden – There are a lot of obvious parallels between the recent developments surrounding Snowden’s NSA leaks and the particular discourse found at The Drone Fallacy. I will elaborate further on the links and the relevance of Snowden’s leaks to understanding both state surveillance and the general phenomenon of unmonitored and excessive state policies – concerning both domestic and foreign populations. In the meantime, here are some links concerning Snowden’s case that I have found helpful. Most of the links are from the Guardian, where Glenn Greenwald first broke the story.
NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily GG
Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks GG
NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others GG
Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data GG
On Prism, partisanship and propaganda GG
ON WHISTLEBLOWERS AND GOVERNMENT THREATS OF INVESTIGATION GG
As one might deduce from the date of my last post, I have taken something of a break from writing at The Drone Fallacy for the past month. This has been rather unintentional – I have been doing a lot of moving back and forth, and that coupled with the end of the school year hasn’t left any time to spare for writing. Things should settle somewhat over the coming weeks so be on the lookout for regular updates here [you can follow me on twitter @DroneFallacy to get instant notifications of any new posts].