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Former NSA Chief Says the NSA Doesn’t Gather U.S. Data. Ron Wyden Promptly Fact-Checks. Former NSA Chief Says the NSA Doesn’t Gather U.S. Data. Ron Wyden Pr...

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Former NSA Chief Says the NSA Doesn’t Gather U.S. Data. Ron Wyden Promptly Fact-Checks.

The Oregon Democrat took to Twitter to chastise Gen. Keith Alexander’s appearance on the premiere of John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight."

 

 

 

Keith Alexander might not be running the National Security Agency anymore, but that doesn't mean he's about to have an easier time justifying its mass surveillance programs to anyone.

The retired general appeared Sunday on the debut episode of Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver's new HBO series, to attempt another defense of the embattled spy agency. Oliver earned praise for his sharp and surprisingly aggressive questioning of Alexander, which included a brainstorming session on how the NSA could rebrand itself as a cute kitten named Mr. Tiggles, "the only government agency that actually listens to you," or as a slightly less reviled brand, such as the Washington Redskins.

 

Oliver also levied a series of substantive criticisms at Alexander, but Sen. Ron Wyden continued the assault on Monday. The Oregon Democrat and vocal NSA critic issued a series of tweets questioning the veracity of some of Alexander's late-night claims, such as "we're not just out there gathering U.S. communications, listening to their phone calls or collecting their emails."

 

 

 

Oliver, for what it's worth, also fact-checked Alexander on that point, noting that "you are out there doing that. You're just saying you're not then reading [those emails]. You are gathering that data."

That forced Alexander to pivot and say, "In terms of going after U.S. infrastructure or … A and B talking in the United States, we aren't collecting that."

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Wyden, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, again disagreed.

Wyden has made a habit of going after intelligence officials, but he was condemned by some anti-surveillance activists last week for not doing more to reveal the NSA's program before Edward Snowden's leaks began surfacing last June. Since then, he and others have been more openly critical of intelligence officials and the NSA's sweeping surveillance programs.

Sunday's interview was Alexander's first since stepping down from his role at the head of the NSA in March.

DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

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