In a rare break from the NSA’s tradition of listening but not speaking, NSA chief General Keith Alexander was grilled Tuesday on the topic of eavesdropping on Americans in front of a House subcommittee.
The questioning from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) was prompted by Wired’s cover story this month on the NSA’s growing reach and capabilities, but leaves Americans with as many questions about the reach of spy agency’s powers as they had before Alexander spoke.
Alexander denied, in carefully parsed words, that the NSA has the power to monitor Americans’ communications without getting a court warrant.
But Alexander’s comments fly in the face of people who actually helped create the agency’s eavesdropping and data mining infrastructure. Few people know that system as well as William Binney, who served as the technical director for the agency’s M Group, which stood for World Geopolitical Military Analysis and Reporting, the giant 6,000-person organization responsible for eavesdropping on most of the world.