NSA director says programs prevented dozens of attacks; public opinion on surveillance, Snowden mixed

By on June 13, 2013, 5:00 PM

The recovery effort for the PRISM leak carries on as various members of the U.S. Government and National Security Agency continue attempts at justifying the program to Congress and the public. NSA director Keith Alexander told a senate committee on Wednesday that government surveillance programs have facilitated the prevention of ‘dozens’ of terrorist attacks, reports NBC News.

Alexander pointed out that most instances of foiled terror plots relied upon multiple sources that complement each other, emphasizing the need for the various surveillance programs that have surfaced recently, such as the Verizon metadata collection.

To lend legitimacy to government surveillance programs, the Obama administration on Tuesday made a statement crediting PRISM with preventing Najibullah Zazi's 2009 New York City subway bombing plot. Alexander said that the NSA hopes to release an exact number of prevented attacks sometime next week.

Alexander defended the NSA’s actions and his employees in his opening statements before the Senate committee. "They do this lawfully," he said. "They take compliance oversight, protecting civil liberties and privacy and the security of this nation to their heart every day. I could not be more proud of the men and women of NSA and Cyber Command."

Meanwhile, public reaction to government surveillance programs is mixed, with polls from Gallup and the Pew Research Center showing different results. 53 percent of people surveyed told Gallup they disagree with government efforts to “compile telephone call logs and Internet communications,” while 37 percent approved. The Pew poll found that 56 percent of people say that NSA tracking programs are acceptable, while 41 percent disapproved.

Beyond the programs themselves is the controversy raised by Edward Snowden leaking classified information. Some are calling him a traitor, and others a hero. Time released a poll today in which 54 percent of respondents indicated that it was a “good thing” that Snowden leaked the information.




User Comments: 27

Got something to say? Post a comment
2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Beyond the programs themselves is the controversy raised by Edward Snowden leaking classified information. Some are calling him a traitor, and others a hero.
In other words a traitor to the government but not the people. The true traitor to the people is the government for all the deception and hidden agendas.

2 people like this | spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

It's the modern day stasi. "The Live of Others" movie depicts well why you don't give government this sort of unchecked power. It becomes a political tool, as the IRS scandals have shown, next it will be this.

Guest said:

Send all American Traitors to China for 2 reasons:

1. China already knows everything as they hacked it

2. It's a shi1tty place to live and traitors should learn how good they DID have it before they got 'all smart'

Guest said:

@Guest;

1.344 billion disagree with 2.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Those were wits of deterrence that nearly brought the world to destruction just over 20 years ago.

How little time it took this brass and others like him to forget that. Historically speaking, we are f#ucked.

TheBigFatClown said:

Lindsay Graham likes being spied on. It gives him a warm fuzzy feeling inside that he just can't get anywhere else. I'll bet he gets a hard on when he goes through TSA security at the airport also. Well, that is assuming that he is actually required to go through a radiation scan like everybody else.

If you live in this persons state, please be sure not to vote for him during the next elections.

Thank You.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

@Guest#2;

1.344 billion don't know any better. I don't think they all consider their living conditions to be world-class.

Guest said:

You should ask them...how the hell they manage to get the approval of their actions against the ppl 56% of american? its means that little by little their a brainwashing the new generations and redefining values and considerations of the ppl by any means necesary....."if you born with the shit up till your throat...of course will be normal for you" that should be the way to live right?......

2 people like this | Guest said:

Can you translate that please?

Guest said:

...we adapt to realities around us. We will adapted to slavery as well.

psycros psycros said:

Dozens of attacks, huh? Really? Then why isn't the president crowing about this at every State of the Union speech? Wouldn't that be a huge feather in his cap? It would also be demoralizing to the terrorists, knowing that all their attempts were being thwarted. Its not like he would've been giving the bad guys any details about how we were stopping them. And yet we hear NOTHING about the successes of our intelligence community unless there's a leak from some ex-CIA insider or the like. The "whistleblowers" never talk about any prevented attacks. If they've got all this classified access wouldn't they know about some of those as well? One might argue that its because the leakers are all agenda-driven liberals and giving us the goods on the effectiveness as well as the shadiness of these programs might hurt their case. But that brings me right back to the previous question: if these domestic spying efforts really are paying off then why wouldn't a smart administration use that success to show that their really necessary?

Guest said:

Of course they now have to say that their bullshit programs helped.

Classic.

Too bad they probably won't be able to prove they prevented any real attacks,

as it'll all be classified probably !

Way to go !

Stupid assmerica.

Renrew Renrew said:

16 known Intelligence agencies and counting

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

United States Department of Defense Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

National Security Agency (NSA)

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)

National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)

Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA)

Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)

Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA)

Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)

United States Department of Energy Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI)

United States Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)

Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI)

United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Security Intelligence (DEA/ONSI)

United States Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)

United States Department of the Treasury Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI)[6]

Government gone wild. Spy vs Spy

TheBigFatClown said:

Snowden is a hero in my book. I hear people saying "Regardless of how you feel about Snowden, we are a nation of laws and he must be punished." A nation of laws huh? 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States of America for God knows how many years without being punished. I didn't hear any of the senators in Washington chanting that "Were a nation of laws" bullshit about the illegal immigrants. I guess breaking THAT law is okay.

Guest said:

It's seems the terrorists have already won. They use fear as a weapon and it's working. With a relative handful of the world population they have scared larger nations. In response the U.S. has decided that maybe rewriting rules around the Constitution (Bill of Rights) are OK. Yes it's OK to spy on our own citizen's, all in the name of protecting them, don't worry we would never abuse this power, muh ha ha.

MilwaukeeMike said:

If these domestic spying efforts really are paying off then why wouldn't a smart administration use that success to show that their really necessary?

The biggest reason is that they don't want our enemies to know our methods. The other reason is people don't care. People only care about bad news, not 'almost' news. The proof is in how hard it is to find these stories. Just a couple months ago they stopped a plot to derail a train in NY . In 2012 a Al Qaeda tried to bomb a plane and was stopped. I'm not trying to prove you wrong, I'm just showing how little press they get. I had to search for them, I didn't hear about either of these when they happened. There very well may be dozens like this for all we know.

To me the scary part isn't that their recording stuff, it's what they DO with the info. And normally I'd say they don't do anything to infringe on our rights, but look at the what the IRS just got busted doing. The IRS was targeting conservative groups in an election year to stop them from getting tax exempt status. They were asking for donor lists and all sorts of personal stuff, [link] That's what's scary about this... listening and watching is one thing, but if they don't do anything, who really cares. But the IRS scandal shows us that they might do something. Having the govt target it's internal opponents is extremely unconstitutional, and it's what I think the real issue is. PRISM makes it easier for them to do that.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

But that brings me right back to the previous question: if these domestic spying efforts really are paying off then why wouldn't a smart administration use that success to show that their really necessary?
Because they are not paying off and not really necessary.

They have always been able to spy, when there was reasonable doubt. I don't have a problem with that. If I'm suspect then fine, catch me if you can with whatever means you have at your disposal. If I am not suspect then by law, leave me alone in my own private world.

MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

But that brings me right back to the previous question: if these domestic spying efforts really are paying off then why wouldn't a smart administration use that success to show that their really necessary?
Because they are not paying off and not really necessary.

They have always been able to spy, when there was reasonable doubt. I don't have a problem with that. If I'm suspect then fine, catch me if you can with whatever means you have at your disposal. If I am not suspect then by law, leave me alone in my own private world.

By allowing them to use these " means at their disposal" you are giving up your constitutional rights. Everyone is a suspect in their eyes, do you think there is a guy sitting in an office saying, " yea, lets check that guy out he looks extra suspicious" ? No, they look at everything, There is no "protection by law" from people with this kind of power, they always get what they want.

Guest said:

The director says it prevented dozen of attacks, but we don't know how much they had violating people's privacy

MilwaukeeMike said:

Because they are not paying off and not really necessary.

They have always been able to spy, when there was reasonable doubt. I don't have a problem with that. If I'm suspect then fine, catch me if you can with whatever means you have at your disposal. If I am not suspect then by law, leave me alone in my own private world.

Did you not see the stories I linked in the comment directly above yours? They are stopping terrorist plots. Whether the PRISM system or other domestic surveillance is being used to help, we'll never know, but you can't automatically say it's not working.

Don't get me wrong... I don't want them recording any of my stuff either, but we can't look at this from only one side. it's a balance of safety vs privacy. We know we're losing privacy, the question is.. are they lying about the safety, or are we really safer? The govt isn't in the habit of giving up information to prove people wrong, they don't have to, and in this case they've got the polls and media on their side. The question is still important though and worth discussing... Are we safer? Don't just ignore it because it didn't make headlines this week.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They are stopping terrorist plots.
They are not stopping terrorist plots, they are provoking future terrorist plots with their methods.

lipe123 said:

So Snowden made it public that everything is monitored, doesn't that act cause problem makers to think twice about collaborating and causing Sh.. in the first place?

Isn't prevention better than cure? Snowden > spying on everything. He single handedly helped prevent far more junk from happening and forced criminals to go outside and meet other criminals face to face, which is much easier to track and makes them easier to catch than when they sit in some hole making phone calls.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here is the bottom line.

You don't strengthen national security, by breaching personal security.

You don't strengthen national security, by hiding the truth from the whole nation.

Heihachi1337 said:

Lindsay Graham likes being spied on. It gives him a warm fuzzy feeling inside that he just can't get anywhere else. I'll bet he gets a hard on when he goes through TSA security at the airport also. Well, that is assuming that he is actually required to go through a radiation scan like everybody else.

If you live in this persons state, please be sure not to vote for him during the next elections.

Thank You.

Fat chance they will because they are moronic hicks in that state. Cause, you know, 'Murica...

Heihachi1337 said:

Here is the bottom line.

You don't strengthen national security, by breaching personal security.

You don't strengthen national security, by hiding the truth from the whole nation.

Pretty much, yeah. That's how it is supposed to work. Problem is we have too many morons that were bred to believe anything our sh!**y government tells them to believe.

1 person liked this | Tygerstrike said:

There was a court order for this. So that means that a duly recognized and elected Judge gave the go ahead. That makes this a official classified mission. What Snowden did was grab himself 15 mins of fame and let our enemies know that we had a way to track and spy on them. By him giving that info away he has handcuffed the intellegence community and taken away a tool that they used to stop some plots.

What gets me more then ANYTHING is the sheer hypocracy the American public is showing in this situation. They want the govt to protect them from the big bad terrorist, but balk at the costs or methods. They want to be safe but they dont want to know the dirty details. And the moment the govt that WE have asked to do a VERY difficult job do ANYTHING that might jepedize the individual citizens little bubble ppl go batshit. Really, how screwed up is that??

Ppl want protection but they expect it to not cost anything. Unfortunatly the costs for the freedoms we enjoy are small. But there is a cost. If they have stopped EVEN one attack then the whole program was worth it. Ask yourself a simple question, what if the data they used had saved MY life.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Since 911, the word "terrorism" has been used by the governments of the world to create an illusion that we are not safe in our homes or public places. Its ultimate goal is to take away our freedoms day by day. They hide the truth behind phrases like "it's for your safety and security."

They take our freedoms away by offering something for free and then underhandedly taking and using our personal information for whatever their sick agenda might be. It's a simple but very effective tool.

Goebbels would have sold his mother to get a shot at controlling today's global propaganda machine!

"Global terrorism" as potrayed by the media does not exist. Political terrorism however, is rife!

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.