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NSA tries to reassure residents, staff in Augusta area

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 7:31 PM
Last updated 8:21 PM
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Officials at the National Security Agency sought to reassure Americans this week that their privacy is protected, including in the Augusta area, where one leader said the organization’s 4,000 employees at Fort Gordon are not to blame for the exposure of a post-9/11 surveillance program that traced phone calls and e-mails to learn of potential terrorist threats.

“The ongoing national dialogue is not about your performance,” Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the NSA, said in a statement to the organization’s 30,000-member work force, which includes civilians and soldiers housed in the 1-year-old Cryptologic Center on Fort Gordon.

In his address, Alexander praised his staff for executing national security responsibilities with “equal and full respect for civil liberties and privacy.”

“The issue is one that is partly fueled by the sensational nature of the leaks and the way their timing has been carefully orchestrated to inflame and embarrass,” Alexander said of the release of top-secret information about U.S. and British government surveillance programs to the media by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor and employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

NSA officials said this week that the challenge of Snowden’s leaks is exacerbated by a lack of public understanding of the safeguards in place and little awareness of the outcomes that surveillance yields.

Snowden – believed to be stranded at a Moscow airport – has applied for political asylum to about 30 countries and on Tuesday neared an agreement with Venezuela or Nicaragua.

“The National Security Agency is unwavering in its respect for U.S. laws and policies,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines said in response to an e-mail from The Augusta Chronicle asking what effect local NSA operations have on the privacy of area residents.

Vines said there is a robust internal and external oversight structure in which all three branches of government play a key role, along with a rigorous internal compliance program.

“NSA’s mission is to protect the nation and safeguard our citizens’ privacy and civil liberties,” Vines added. “It’s not an either/or proposition. We can and must do both – and we do.”

On June 21, records show, the NSA provided more than 50 cases to both the House and Senate Intelligence committees that show the U.S. government’s sweeping surveillance programs have legally foiled about 50 terrorist plots nationwide and in 20 other countries.

On top of that case study, Alexander said, a report issued by the Senate Judiciary in June 2012 emphasized that the government has implemented its intelligence authorities in a responsible manner since new surveillance measures were approved by Congress after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In March 2012, the NSA officially opened a $286 million complex at Fort Gordon to develop a cryptologic enterprise that is “resilient, agile and effective” in battling current and future threats, officials said.

“Through four years of oversight, the committee has not identified a single case in which a government official engaged in willful effort to circumvent or violate the law,” the report stated.

“That’s an incredible record and a testament to NSA’s staunch commitment to protecting and upholding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people even as we keep our nation safe,” Alexander wrote in his statement. “This has been accomplished by the extraordinary people at NSA, the real heroes, working alongside our partners within the Intelligence Community.”

President Obama and Congress remain engaged in a public dialogue to maintain or possibly enhance national security, while making sure the American public gets the “rest of the story,” Alexander said.

“The Deputy Director, the Senior Leadership Team and I will continue to work this hard and take the heat,” Alexander’s statement to his staff said. “We need you to focus on our primary mission of defending our nation and our allies. Thank you for all you do to support our mission every day of the year.”

Comments (15) Add comment
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Riverman1
93481
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Riverman1 07/09/13 - 07:45 pm
8
2
We Love NSA-Augusta

Haha, I brought up about people in Augusta being careful because of the NSA here as a joke, more or less. However, it's nice to have them respond to reassure us. Make no mistake, the vast majority of people in the CSRA support our NSA facility. We luv ya...seriously!

raul
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raul 07/09/13 - 07:59 pm
4
0
On second thought, no

On second thought, no comment.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/09/13 - 08:34 pm
9
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NSA is a force for good

People, ever stop to think what Al Quaeda would have done to us without this surveillance? I am NOT for unilateral disarmament and therefore support the NSA, CIA and our military.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/09/13 - 10:03 pm
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1
Hoodwink

The first paragraph has the reporter telling us readers that the NSA is protecting our privacy. The subsequent paragraphs have the NSA commander praising his subordinates for snooping into our privacy.

Sigh. These new intern reporters haven't learned how to separate government press releases from the truth.

OJP
7738
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OJP 07/09/13 - 10:11 pm
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3
@Dixieman

Spare us the scare tactics.

I wanna know why we have to allow all this spying yet the NSA wasn't able to catch the Boston Bombers. They weren't even professional terrorists...

nanowerx
1394
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nanowerx 07/10/13 - 01:37 am
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1
Nice try NSA PR.

So the guys caught trampling on our rights are trying to reassure us that they really aren't? Do they expect us to really fall for that?! Sorry, maybe some others on here are drinking the kool-aid, but I ain't buying it.

I would make a comment further demeaning the NSA, but they are listening right now so I am just going to put on a fake smile and say how great of a job they are doing :-/

myfather15
56558
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myfather15 07/10/13 - 05:22 am
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2
NSA having to "reassure" residents?

Hhhhhmmmm, doesn't sound right to begin with!! When they start working hard to "reassure" us, it might be more reason for concern!! Again, someone rightly pointed out that they didn't stop the Boston Marathon bombing AFTER Russia had warned us about the older brother!!

Russia to America: Hey, this guy might be a radical!! He is hanging with some bad dudes!!

America to Russia: Ok, thanks. Zzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzzz!!!

Oh, let's not forget:

Ambassador Stevens to America: Hey, we might need extra security on 9/11. We've got information attacks are planned!!

America to Ambassador Stevens: Ok, thanks for the warning. Zzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzz!!!!

nocnoc
49121
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nocnoc 07/10/13 - 05:57 am
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0
YES, I support their "Legally approved" Anti-terrorist mission

and scope, that allows the tracking international calls and etc.

But that scope was modified in recent years to include internal blanket US citizen to US citizen calls without court. This I do not support as amended

http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/18C119.txt

While I am at it
I have to point out the careful wording used, in case it was missed by anyone.

"the NSA .... not to blame for the exposure of a post-9/11 surveillance program... "

No they are not to blame for exposing themselves.
Some else is did that.

SHADOW FACTORY
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow_Factory
I have listed it before here it is a good factual read and in this case it gives a lot of insight in the data collection operations.

BTW: the operation at Fort Gordon has been at it a lot longer than just the stated 1 year at their new location.

rebellious
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rebellious 07/10/13 - 05:57 am
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1
Yea, Right

“NSA’s mission is to protect the nation and safeguard our citizens’ privacy and civil liberties,” Vines added. “It’s not an either/or proposition. We can and must do both – and we do.”

Translation: "I'm from the government and we are here to help"

Young Fred
20860
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Young Fred 07/10/13 - 07:29 am
3
1
Well, after Obama's PBS

Well, after Obama's PBS "nothing to see here, move along" interview, and reading the above article, I certainly feel reassured!

CobaltGeorge
175500
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CobaltGeorge 07/10/13 - 07:55 am
3
4
As a retired member of the ASA

of the Vietnam era, monitoring and collecting information on our enemies has protected this great nation more than you will every know.
I support the NSA 100% ....but....I believe that now they are monitoring the Muslim nations but are not getting the backing that they should have because the Muslim nations has there American leader in a very high American position. All I can say is "Beware".

Yes, some of our privacy is violated but "If You Have Nothing To Hide, What Is The Problem." I know I sound like a Liberal. Sorry! I have seen the other side of Privacy.

thauch12
7066
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thauch12 07/10/13 - 08:32 am
3
0
Of course

YES NSA, I COMPLETELY BELIEVE THE FACT YOU GUYS ARE NOT SPYING ON ME!
...said noone ever.

nanowerx
1394
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nanowerx 07/10/13 - 08:34 am
2
0
...

CobaltGeorge: Yes, some of our privacy is violated but "If You Have Nothing To Hide, What Is The Problem."

Basically what you are saying is that if someone has nothing to hide and isn't doing anything wrong, then they don't need privacy and don't need rights. Slippery slope.

myfather15
56558
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myfather15 07/10/13 - 10:43 am
0
1
I agree with George;

If they want to spy on me, hand me the consent form and I'll sign it. You don't have to do it in some back room somewhere. I know they need to spy on the enemy and I do support that. But spying on everyday Americans is a little ridiculous!!

Go ahead!! Spy on me, just be prepared for endless hours of boredom!!

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 07/10/13 - 07:30 pm
0
0
100%

The teams within the NSA are protecting our interests and our lives 24/7/365. Thank you!

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