The top official at the National Security Agency suggested that the scope of its controversial phone-data collection program could be limited to keep only information related to terrorism.
“I think there’s yet another option where you look at what data you actually need and get only that data,” NSA Director Keith Alexander said, testifying at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday.
That option, he added, assumes the U.S. can “come up with a capability that just gets those that are predicated on a terrorist communication.”
Alexander’s comments are a stark contrast to the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata that privacy advocates, and some members of Congress, have criticized. As a former senior intelligence official told The Washington Post last year, the NSA wanted to collect “the whole haystack” rather than “a single needle in the haystack.”
Alexander said a proposal will be submitted to Congress “over the next several weeks.” Each of the options under consideration to modify the program has its pros and cons, he said, adding that officials are focused on how the program’s “agility” would be effected.
A panel commissioned by the White House suggested last year that phone companies or a private third party should hold the metadata, but the industry has shown little interest or support for that proposal. The Obama administration is currently weighing four options on what to do with the program.
Alexander, who will retire this spring, and the NSA have been under near constant criticism since June, when media outlets began to publicly disclose U.S. intelligence-gathering programs, largely using documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Alexander stressed throughout the hearing that the American people need to have a better understanding of what the NSA does, and that a “reset” is needed.
What We're Following See More »
Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."