To many well-known journalists including technology bloggers, the interview with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, appeared more as an infomercial for the agency than anything else. It largely ignored the incriminating information made public by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, focusing mainly on the leaker as opposed to what was leaked.
Coincidently (or not), the “60 Minutes” investigation was headed by correspondent John Miller, who formerly worked at the office of the director of National Intelligence.
Here are a few points from Gen Alexander’s interview which are questionable – to say the least - showing that the program was one-sided and lacked critical counter arguments.
"The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that.”
According to Gen. Alexander, the “least intrusive” way of tracking terrorists among U.S. citizens was to collect metadata and not the content of the communications themselves.
Civil rights advocates would disagree.
In May senior policy analyst and technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Chris Soghoian, told The Verge that collecting metadata was not as harmless as it is often portrayed, adding that it could seriously compromise a journalist’s work and integrity.
“There are whole categories of information for which the metadata is as sensitive as the content,” Soghoian stated.
Washington Post’s Report On Interception Of Google-Yahoo Internet Cable Links:
“We’re not going into a facility or targeting Google as an entity or Yahoo has an entity. But we will collect those communications of terrorists that flow on that network.”
The Washington Post reported in October that NSA, in collaboration with its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), hacked communications between Yahoo and Google through a secret surveillance program called Muscular. Almost a month later, The New York Times, revealed last month that fiber optics giants such as Verizon Communications, BT Group and Level 3 Communications may have helped NSA tap data transmission lines.
Also, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg admitted in September that the U.S. government violated people’s privacy while tech companies were bullied into compromising their users in the name of national security.
So clearly they ARE targeting Google and Yahoo.
Attempt To “Completely” Discredit Former Contractor Edward Snowden:
Throughout the interview, Edward Snowden was portrayed as some kind of Hollywood villain possessing suspicious habits, such as hiding his computer screen from his girlfriend with the help of a hood that covered his head and shoulders as well.
The NSA can choose to spin Snowden’s character any way they choose, but the fact still remains that he had original intelligence documents exposing the agency’s spying programs that as far as we know still exist.
60 Minutes solely focused on discrediting Snowden instead of addressing the real issues i.e. NSA programs such as PRISM, Boundless Informant and XKeyscore that violate a citizen’s basic freedoms.
Here’s what prominent journalists had to say about the CBS report. It includes the response from former Guardian employee and NSA columnist Glenn Greenwald.
60 Minutes forgot to ask about how James Clapper & Keith Alexander routinely lied to Congress & FISA courts - just ran out of time.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 16, 2013
60 Minutes producer gushing about his NSA access: "It was like Star Trek...My favorite room was the Black Chamber!" http://t.co/MTxpEqsuRE— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 16, 2013
"The NSA doesnt' choose who to spy on." Right, they spy on fucking everybody. #60minutes— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) December 16, 2013
That was embarrassing for 60 Minutes: Two public relations segments for the NSA. Worse than bogus Amazon drone video.— Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko) December 16, 2013
60 Minutes journalist tasked to report on the NSA used to work for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. So there's that.— Andrew Blake (@apblake) December 16, 2013
I hope the many good people at NSA are either quitting or working, hard, for change from within. Likewise at CBS News.— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) December 16, 2013