Lying about the Necessity of State Surveillance for Domestic Security

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.


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