At yesterday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, NSA boss Keith Alexander and top spy James Clapper evaded, blocked, and dodged questions from elected reps, making a mockery of the idea that there's any adult supervision of America's spooks. A telling moment came when Mark Udall asked if they ended to collect the records of all Americans, and Alexander said, "I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox – yes."
Wyden and his fellow Democrat Mark Udall used the public hearing to press the intelligence chiefs on aspects of the top-secret surveillance infrastructure.
Asked by Udall whether it was the NSA's aim to collect the records of all Americans, Alexander replied: "I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox – yes."
He would not be drawn on any past attempts or plans to store cell site data for security reasons. The NSA director evaded repeated questions from Wyden over whether the NSA had either collection of cell site phone data, or planned to do so. Alexander eventually replied: "What I don't want to do senator is put out in an unclassified form anything that is classified."
US intelligence chiefs urge Congress to preserve surveillance programs [Paul Lewis and Dan Roberts/The Guardian]