James Bamford talking:
Keith Alexander is a four-star general. And if you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, its very unlikely that even members of Congress wouldnt even recognize who he is. His name is unfamiliar to most Americans. His face is unfamiliar to most people even in Washington. So, hes a very mysterious person, but hes the most powerful person thats ever existed in the American intelligence community. First of all, he runs the largest intelligence agency and the most secret intelligence agency on Earth, probably, which is the NSA, in charge of enormous numbers of people that do just amazing electronic spying, as we could see in the revelations just in the last week.
In addition to that, he runs basically his own military. Its the U.S. Cyber Command, which was just placed under his authority. The U.S. Cyber Command is an extremely powerful organization thats already launched aggressive, what they call “kinetic attacks.” Kinetic attacks means destructive attacks using cyber to actually destroy things. And they destroyed the centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear development plant using cyber. So, as isas being commander of U.S. Cyber Command, hes also got three branches of the military under him. Hes got the 2nd Army, the 24th Air Force and the 10th Navy Fleet. So youve got an enormously powerful person whos enormously secret and who can do things without even members of Congress knowing about it.
Rumsfeld was the person who really gave him most of his stars. He came from almost nowhere. He was a West Point graduate, and he rose up through the ranks in the NSAs secret world. But then, when the Bush administration came in, he really began rising high in the administration, going from one-star to three-star in a very short period of time, and now four stars.
one of the groups that he was in charge of when he was head of the Armys Intelligence Command were the people in Abu Ghraib, the military intelligence people who were connected to a lot of the human rights abuses that went on there.
the interesting thing here is that the administration, and particularly the NSA, has been coming out with all these charges against China going after our secrets, our information, and so forth. Its caused the Congress to give enormous amounts of money to NSA, this money for defensive use against the Chinese and so forth. What never comes out is the U.S. offensive capability against the rest of the world. The U.S.theres nobody that can even compare to the U.S. Weve got an enormous Cyber Command. Theyre expanding NSAs secret city by a third to accommodate 14 new buildings, 10 parking garages, a new enormous supercomputer centerall this for this new, very secret Cyber Command. And its dedicated largely to offensive, to creating wars, not preventing wars.
the U.S. have been involved in that since the very beginning. Thats what NSAs job is, is espionage. And it was at the forefront of the electronic eavesdropping era, and its at the forefront of the cyberwarfare era. I mean, the first thing you have to do when youre doing cyberwarfare is discover how their systems work. And you do that by inserting viruses, different kinds of malware into their systems, and thats what NSAs job is. So, weve got an entire command now. Fourteen thousand more people are going to be working for General Alexander now in Cyber Command. So, this is a serious command. As I said, hes got Army and Navy and Air Force under him. This isthis is the real thing.
the information that the public is gettingthat the public is getting is incorrect. But its incorrect because its coming from Keith Alexander and the administration. Whats incorrect is the fact that you had General Clapper up there denying in Congress that the U.S. was engaged in any of this kind of activity. General Alexanderwell, I wrote about this. Basically, the same things that are coming out from Mr. Snowden, I wrote about in Wired last year in a cover story, where I interviewed Bill Binney and so forth, and they verbally told me basically the same thing. And very soon after, Keith Alexander came out denying all this, which isgives me a lot of thought about what might have been going through Snowdens mind, for example.
If he sees the other whistleblowers coming out, like Bill Binney, other people, Tom Drake and so forth, and they come out and say that the government is doing these things, and then the administration and NSA comes out and says, “Thats not true. Were not doing them,” and then the mainstream media sort of just follows in linefalls in line with the NSA position, you know, what could go through somebodys mind is, well, the only way to actually get attention to this is show the real documents, show what really is going on. And you cant deny, if youredeny it, if youre actually looking at a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that actually shows that all these telephone records are being collected, even local records, on a daily basis. So, thats the problem, is this escalation. You try to tell the public whats going on; the administration denies it. Well, whats next? Youve got to show the proof. Youve got to show the documents.
spy center thats being built in Bluffdale, Utah. it is NSAs external hard drive. Its a storage place for all that NSA gets from its surveillance, including the daily records of everybodys telephone calls, which, again, weve just been hearing about in the news. But its not just that. Its all this information thats coming in from the Internet that the NSA picks out. Its all their surveillance from all around the country, all around the world. And it all goes into this one place. Its basically a huge data warehouse where all this information is placed. But it also serves as the cloud for NSA, the cloud being the central repository where everywhere all the information is kept. And then, through these fiber-optic cables that go out from it, people at NSA headquarters, people at NSA listening posts in Georgia, Texas, all these places, are able to immediately go in. Its just like, like I said, a hard drive. You go in, and you analyze all that information thats in there. So if theyre collecting my telephone records today, who Im calling, then tomorrow or tonight the NSA could go into those records in Bluffdale, Utah, and analyze them. So, thats basically what its for. Its this massive repository for all the information that NSA is collecting. And its a million square feet. Its an enormous amount of space at a time when you can put a terabyte worth of data on just a blade on a Swiss Army knife, which can, like I said, hold a terabyte worth of data, and this is a million square feet, costing $2 billion.
I also spoke at the DEF CON conference there. But the comments that General Alexander made, I thought, were amazingly out of place, because here it is, we just discovered he has all these dossiers that hes listing, that hes got all these records on American people and all these links into American Internet. What hes talking about in terms of oversight also isis just nonsense. He talks about the courts. Well, the court hes talking about is a top-secret court that nobody is even allowed to know where it exists, where its address is, let alone getting any information from it. And in the lastor, the last time that they overhauled the legislation, they weakened the court a great deal.
thats always what they claim, is that, “Look, were not involved in the United States at all. Were not involved in U.S. interception at all. Were just involved in foreign communications.” Well, you know, if you look at that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that was released, what it talks about is getting from Verizon not just overseas calls, it talks about local calls. These are calls that arent even going to be on your bill. I mean, these are local calls or, you know, somebody calling their grandmother next door. Weve come down to that, where the government is trying to get access to even your local calls. And I dont see any connection between that and what they say. What they claim is that were only doing international, were only doing foreign communications. Well, when youre asking for local phone calls throughout the United States, everybody in the United States, on a daily basis, you know, wheres the truth in all these claims?
if youre trying to find a needle in a haystack, the last thing you want to do is continually put more hay on that haystack. You want get people that are morehire people that are more capable of finding the needle, rather than hiring people towith a pitchfork to put more hay on the haystack. And thats always what happens. Every time theres an incident, they just say, “We need more information.”
Not only that, this idea that theyre doing this totally covertly is just anti-democratic. The BritishI just came back from about 10 days over in London. And before all this broke out over here, they were debating the same thing in England, because the government wanted access to all the metadata of the communications in the country, and they wanted to order the ISPs to store all the incoming and outgoing Internet data for a year, so the government can monitor it, go through the metadata and so forth. The difference, however, is, is that they decided to do that legally, through a bill through Parliament, where it was actually debated in Parliament and debated in the press. And people in the public were talking about it. And it was voted down. The public said thats too much of an intrusion for the balance ofwhat they were saying, the balances in security. So, here you have a democratic system in England where theyrethey have a choice, and they vote against it. Here, they probably figure, “Well, if we bring this out to a vote, people will vote against it, so well just impose it on them secretly.” thats certainly not the democratic process.
- source democracynow.org
James Bamford, investigative reporter who has covered the National Security Agency for the last three decades and helped expose the NSAs existence in the 1980s. His most recent book on the agency is The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.