Document Reveals Talking Points for Defenders of NSA Spying

Sunday, November 03, 2013
Gen. Keith Alexander (photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)

Following the first news reports in June of domestic spying on Americans’ communications, the National Security Agency (NSA) handed out new talking points (pdf) to its top officials urging them to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for the agency’s controversial surveillance activities.


Obtained by Al Jazeera America through the Freedom of Information Act, the talking points serve to remind people that the NSA’s “first responsibility is to defend the nation,” and that the agency “must make sure we connect the dots so that the nation is never attacked again like it was on 9/11.”


The 27-page document even includes the recommended statement (found under the subheading “Sound Bites That Resonate”): “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”


Other talking points insist the NSA’s work is “lawful” and compliant with all federal oversight, and that “allies benefit too” from its intelligence gathering (unless they’re targets of NSA snooping, presumably.)


The document indirectly addresses the numerous revelations about NSA spying that came to light because of whistleblower Edward Snowden by stating:  “Disclosures have done irreversible and significant damage to security,” and that “every time there are disclosures, it makes our job harder.”


Officials are also told to praise the work of NSA employees, characterized as “patriots who serve in silence.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Revealed: NSA Pushed 9/11 as Key 'Sound Bite' to Justify Surveillance (by Jason Leopold, Al Jazeera America)

NSA Talking Points (Al Jazeera America) (pdf)

NSA Monitored 60 Million Phone Calls in Spain in a Single Month; NSA Chief Insists that Allies Did some of the Spying (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Should National Intelligence Director Clapper be Charged with a Felony for Lying in Sworn Senate Testimony? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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