The National Security Agency released a "final talking points” memo in response to an Al Jazeera Freedom of Information Act request this month, showing that the agency had advised members of Congress, the media and the Obama administration to bring up the Sept. 11 attacks in defense of NSA's mass surveillance.
The memo was drafted in June, soon after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s rogue disclosures of massive NSA spying on ordinary Americans. The document repeatedly advises officials defending the program to emphasize its “lawful,” “narrow” and “limited” scope. It cites “9/11” more than 30 times.From Page 4 of the document:
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.
The advice apparently was well taken. At the first public hearing after the leaks, NSA Director Keith Alexander recited the talking point almost verbatim.
"I would much rather be here today debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11," Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee.From Page 3:
• DISCLOSURES HAVE DONE IRREVERSIBLE AND SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO SECURITY.
• EVERY TIME THERE ARE DISCLOSURES, IT MAKES OUR JOB HARDER.
Alexander made clear he'd read this page of the memo during an interview with ABC later in June, saying, "What Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies.”
The memo also argues that the NSA snooping has benefited U.S. allies and that the agency operated under “lawful” and “strict oversight” from all three branches of government.
The NSA memo also suggests commending “THE EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE AT NSA, THE REAL HEROS” for their efforts to “connect the dots” and uphold national security.
Recent revelations that the NSA spied on 35 foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have prompted denials by the White House and condemnation from lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had been a staunch defender of the surveillance programs.