National Security Agency Director, General Keith Alexander, was interviewed by Bloomberg Television‘s Trish Regan at the “Cybersecurity: Costs and Solutions” conference held in Washington, D.C., by Bloomberg Government. By Alexander’s own admission, the NSA doesn’t “do a good job explaining” the job it does because it does not “get out in front of the press.” Rather than make a mistake, which may increase the likelihood of a successful attack, the NSA chooses not to go public.
Yet there he was, out in front of the press, talking about the NSA and what it does. Here are some highlights from the October 30 interview, including explanations and justifications for NSA programs. ”This is what the nation needs us to do. You guys defend the country and protect our civil liberties and privacy. We’ll take the heat. Now we didn’t realize it would get that hot.”
Alexander explained that the NSA has “great insights to terrorists.” When a phone number calls into the United States, the NSA can help sort out if it is a terrorist calling, and then pass that along to the FBI. “We don’t want to collect and we don’t collect the content of US person’s emails or phones, but that’s hyped out in the press and everybody says they must do this with everything. Think about it. We don’t have enough people to do that. Why would we do it? There’s no intelligence value.”