The following is via Julia Angwin.
General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, escalated his critiques of the media coverage of the NSA leaks, saying they would cause people to die, and downplayed NSA’s pilot project on tracking cellphone locations.
Gen. Alexander’s remarks on Thursday evening, which echoed comments he made earlier this week, were made in an interview conducted by Tom Brokaw at a New York dinner hosted by the Business Executives for National Security.
The conversation focused on the series of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about NSA programs, including bulk collection of telephone calling information. Gen. Alexander said the programs were necessary to stop terrorist attacks against the United States.
Terrorists “listen, they see what has come out in the press and they adjust,” Gen. Alexander said. He said the damage from the leaks is irreversible. “I believe people will die because we won’t be able to stop some of those threats.”
Gen. Alexander also downplayed the reports that NSA had tested using American cell-phone location information, saying that the pilot program was very small. “We only tested it with less than 50 files and then decided we don’t need it at this time,” he said. “The real truth: we have never used cell site information to track information in the United States.”
Mr. Brokaw probed Gen. Alexander about NSA’s secrecy, asking why the agency could not reveal even the number of its employees. “Isn’t there more that we could know about the NSA?” he asked.
Gen. Alexander said he wished he could reveal more information but that the secrecy was necessary to fight terrorism. “If there was a way to provide the information and terrorists didn’t get it, but the moment you put it in the Washington Post or the New York Times, the terrorist get it,” he said. “If there was a way to tell the American people without telling the terrorists, we would do it.”
This is via here.