How can 54=2? Because if you are willing to lie, anything is possible

We have been repeatedly told by the NSA and its supporters inside and outside the government about how valuable the massive privacy invasions were because they stopped a large number of terrorist plots, possibly 54 of them. Marcy Wheeler says that under close questioning from senator Patrick Leahy, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted that it actually may have been at most two plots.

This is of course standard government lying procedure, to make some spectacular claim that grabs the headlines and imprints itself on people’s minds, and then later concede that it was false, knowing that the correction will only register with those who follow the news closely.

This lie was in addition to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, another confessed liar, admitting that the NSA did in fact track the locations of Americans using their cell phones. He said that it was a test program done in 2010 and 2011 and was never made fully operational. But senator Ron Wyden’s questions suggest that they are still hiding the truth.

But Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who receives classified briefings as a member of the Intelligence Committee and who has raised concerns about cellphone location tracking, said in a statement that there was more to know about the matter than the government had now declassified.

“After years of stonewalling on whether the government has ever tracked or planned to track the location of law-abiding Americans through their cellphones, once again, the intelligence leadership has decided to leave most of the real story secret — even when the truth would not compromise national security,” Mr. Wyden said.

Laura Poitras and James Risen said in the New York Times that the Snowden documents revealed that the NSA is “exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information”. NSA director Alexander was asked about this at the same Congressional hearing.

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the N.S.A., who also testified Wednesday at the hearing, sharply criticized an article on the agency in The New York Times on Sunday. He said it was “flat wrong” that the agency was “creating dossiers on Americans from social networks.” He added that “were not creating social networks on our families.”

Alexander is probably lying about that too.

A former NSA official has accused the NSA’s director of deception during a speech he gave at the DefCon hacker conference on Friday when he asserted that the agency does not collect files on Americans.

William Binney, a former technical director at the NSA, said during a panel discussion that NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander was playing a “word game” and that the NSA was indeed collecting e-mails, Twitter writings, internet searches and other data belonging to Americans and indexing it.

“Unfortunately, once the software takes in data, it will build profiles on everyone in that data,” he said. “You can simply call it up by the attributes of anyone you want and it’s in place for people to look at.”

For these people, playing word games and outright lying is as natural as breathing.


  1. trucreep says

    A huge part of their game relies on carefully crafted statements to be able to lie without technically lying. You’ll notice they always respond with “not under this program” or “under this section,” and thanks to Snowden we know why. That being said, you’ll notice the NYT article doesn’t actually say that they’re creating ‘dossiers’ anywhere, that’s just something a lot of people will infer after reading it. You’ll also notice he puts ‘from social networks’ at the end as well.

    They’re also starting to use phrases like “every day Americans,” which is their way of applying their “done nothing wrong, nothing to hide” mentality. At the end of the day, both of them are proven serial liars with real contempt for oversight that will give “the least untruthful” answer whenever possible. And the so called “oversight” we have in our Congress is not only ready to defer to their judgement, but they do everything in their power to accommodate them. They actually work harder at maintaining an illusion of oversight than actual oversight (DiFi’s hearing the other week is a perfect example of this). Senators Wyden and Udall are the only ones that have shown they take their role of oversight seriously. Most of the other members will just filibuster themselves in order to save some sort of face in light of not knowing about a damn thing that goes on.

  2. left0ver1under says

    Exaggerated claims by victims or alleged victims is common practice. They inflated their accusations because nobody (the public, cops, government) would listen if they didn’t. And it’s often because the accusations are minor or false (e.g. Marissa Alexander).

    Saddam Hussein and his thugs were monsters and war criminals, but nobody was throwing babies out of incubators. And yet that was one of the lies that finally got people to support the 1991 invasion. The girl who “testified” was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador participating in propaganda, not a nurse as she claimed to be.

    AT&T’s biggest charge against Kevin Mitnick in 1993 was that he stole “millions of dollars” worth of “secret” material from the company. What he actually did was copy a file that AT&T was selling for about $20. Mitnick never distributed the text, never did any of his hacking for money nor caused any damage. The US government gave Mitnick years in prison (mostly in solitary confinement) for minor computer trespass. Just imagine what inflated sentences would be given today (re: Chelsea Manning).

    And to Selkirk, I was thinking the same thing. You beat me to it.

  3. sailor1031 says

    So if there were to be a secret takeover of the gummint by communists how could we tell it had happened? Oh yeah – there’d be gummint health care. Silly me. Everything else would be about the same.

  4. trucreep says

    Oddly enough, regarding your hypothetical scenario for today, we have one in the case of Barret Brown.

    The case basically boils down to this: He linked to a publicly available page on AT&T’s website, and now faces years in prison.

    If that sounds insane, it’s because it is. I wish I was joking.

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