If Everything NSA Does is “Auditable,” Why Can’t NSA Tell Us How Many Americans They’ve Spied On?

NSA Director Keith Alexander just said this to the hackers at DefCon (while wearing an absolutely ridiculous hacker costume):

“We get oversight by Congress, both intel committees and their congressional members and their staffs,” he continued, “so everything we do is auditable by them, by the FISA court … and by the administration. And everything we do is accountable to them…. We are overseen by everybody. And I will tell you that those who would want to weave the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is absolutely false.”

But a month ago, Alexander’s Inspector General told Ron Wyden that an estimate of the number of people inside the United States who have had their communications collected or reviewed under the FISA Amendments Act “was beyond the capacity of his office.” Of note, the IG and NSA leadership–that is, presumably Alexander himself–claimed such a review would “violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”

I look forward to Ron Wyden’s response to Alexander’s seeming reversal on that earlier letter with claims of this unlimited auditability.

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10 Responses to If Everything NSA Does is “Auditable,” Why Can’t NSA Tell Us How Many Americans They’ve Spied On?

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel RT @KimZetter: Suddenly GOPs English is so good.
JimWhiteGNV Free idea: as oil price plunges and fracking stops, plot oil price vs earthquake frequency in TX, OK as fracking went up and then down.
bmaz @rhfelix Everybody has known her name for a decade. It is just silly at this point.
emptywheel And as flawed as intel was 12 years ago claiming link between Iraq and 9/11, it was no way near as privatized as intel here is.
emptywheel 12 years ago Dick Cheney went on MTP (as he did last Sunday) to claim that Iraq was partly behind 9/11. #Attribution
JimWhiteGNV Hope so. Think StuxNet got my wifi BBQ controller (; RT @JimMcelwainUF: Can we use all that money on a academic center for barbecue instead?
JimWhiteGNV RT @froomkin: John Brennan installs his deputy in Susan Rice’s office. How very Cheney. http://t.co/B8JWOFeXF0
JimWhiteGNV @ArifCRafiq Any word on whether today's drone strike hit Fazlullah?
emptywheel RT @AthertonKD: An @charlie_simpson discussion about problems with big companies play limited liability instead of deterrence https://t.co/
emptywheel RT @JoeBeOne: “a cyberattack caused [widespread] physical damage to an iron plant in [Germany]” http://t.co/QNnDNevUDd