NSA chief wants to limit freedom of the press

Keith Alexander

Amid growing concerns from foreign governments of the NSA’s alleged spying and backlash domestically over the collection of innocent Americans phone and Internet data, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander wants to stop the press from reporting on the information provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden:

The head of the embattled National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, is accusing journalists of “selling” his agency’s documents and is calling for an end to the steady stream of public disclosures of secrets snatched by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know it just doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department’s “Armed With Science” blog.

“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” the NSA director declared.

Alexander did not elaborate on what he meant by reporters “selling” documents or what options he might consider for halting the disclosures. An NSA spokeswoman declined to expand on the general’s comments.

Alexander, who will step down from his post early next year, has had trouble trying to get a handle on the controversy surrounding the NSA spying programs, which have been used to collect data of Americans phone callsInternet recordsemails, and even their social media connections.

The suggestion from a prominent government official that the press should somehow be prevented from reporting on these leaks is outrageous. The First Amendment exists, and it protects the press from government intervention. He may not like that, but these are all his problems.

Alexander also made familiar, though false, claims about the programs and congressional oversight. He, once again, says that the bulk data collection methods employed by the NSA aren’t a form a spying. But Mike Masnick of TechDirt notes that collecting metadata that contains personal information (ie. phone numbers, location information, etc) “is incredibly revealing and absolutely is a form of spying.”

Masnick also explains that the congressional oversight of the programs is a joke. “It’s been shown that the courts and Congress have admitted they’re limited by what the NSA tells them — and the NSA goes out of its way to avoid telling Congress very much,” he wrote.

Thousands rallied against domestic surveillance in Washington over the weekend. That event brought out concerned Americans from across the ideological spectrum. Moreover, there is growing sentiment from the international community over spying on foreign leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel. Twenty-one nations are pushing for a resolution against this sort of spying at the United Nations.

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