From US News and World Report:
“National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander testified Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee that phone and Internet surveillance programs made public by former defense contractor Edward Snowden prevented approximately 50 terrorist plots, 10 of which targeted the U.S., and said new policies are being crafted to prevent another large-scale leak.
Alexander disclosed that approximately 1,000 people are currently employed as NSA systems administrators – the position Snowden held – and that the agency is “working to come up with a two-person rule” to prevent people “from taking information out of our system.” Snowden was a contractor assigned to the NSA by Booz Allen Hamilton before he downloaded and released information on the top-secret programs.”
Color me skeptical, but I have a suspicion that the NSA is overstating their case. And I believe that to be the case because that’s what I would do if I was in their position. They are defending programs that give them a lot of power and they’re going to do anything they can to protect them.
For sure, these programs probably aided in stopping attacks and arresting terrorism suspects. They may have even saved lives. But there’s a difference between these programs being helpful and being essential. Both a flyswatter and a bazooka can kill a fly, but we use the flyswatter.
Once programs like these are established, they become entrenched and inherently resistant to scrutiny and oversight. It’s the nature of all government programs, whether they be spy agencies or entitlements. However, we need leadership that is not afraid to keep these agencies in check and call them out when it’s needed. Right now, I’m not so sure we have that leadership.