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NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong

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January 7, 2014


FROM: Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Input for Your Decisions on NSA


Official Washington -- from Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to NSA Director Keith Alexander to former Vice President Dick Cheney to former FBI Director Robert Mueller -- has been speaking from the same set of NSA talking points acquired recently via a Freedom of Information request. It is an artful list, much of it designed to mislead. Take this one, for example:


At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 2, Senator Feinstein showed her hand when she said: "I will do everything I can to prevent this [NSA's bulk] program from being canceled." Declaring that 9/11 "can never be allowed to happen in the United States of America again," Feinstein claimed that intelligence officials did not have enough information to prevent the terrorist attacks.

Mr. President, we trust you are aware that the lack-of-enough-intelligence argument is dead wrong. Feinstein's next dubious premise -- that bulk collection is needed to prevent another 9/11 -- is unproven and highly unlikely (not to mention its implications for the privacy protections of the Fourth Amendment).

Given the closed circle surrounding you, we are allowing for the possibility that the smell from these rotting red herrings has not yet reached you -- even though your own Review Group has found, for example, that NSA's bulk collection has thwarted exactly zero terrorist plots.

The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there. We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.

We prepared this Memorandum in an effort to ensure that you have a fuller picture as you grapple with what to do about NSA. What follows is just the tip of an iceberg of essential background information -- much of it hidden until now -- that goes to the core of serious issues now front and center.

The drafting process sparked lively discussion of the relative merits of your Review Group's recommendations. We have developed very specific comments on those recommendations. We look forward to an opportunity to bring them to your attention.



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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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I would love to ask Feinstein: Who attacked us on... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014 at 6:11:26 PM
Thomas Drake has revealed himself. And Ray McGove... by Paul Repstock on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 1:00:56 AM
One can only assume that extreme presure has been... by Paul Repstock on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 1:10:22 AM
You hypercritical offspring of a mutated canine. ... by Old Gray Mule on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 2:54:51 PM
Don't insult my Mother. I alone am responsible fo... by Paul Repstock on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 8:59:29 PM
A warning for all those people who are sitting on... by Paul Repstock on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 10:52:07 AM
McGovern, a CIA veteran insider, insists on calli... by Joe Giambrone on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 2:22:39 PM
... except there's no evidence of al Qaeda (a CIA ... by Paul Carline on Thursday, Jan 9, 2014 at 3:53:44 AM
Couldn't agree more with you, Paul, note my post. ... by Eddy Schmid on Thursday, Jan 9, 2014 at 4:03:30 AM
Dead right Joe, it would appear the Nazi saying; "... by Eddy Schmid on Thursday, Jan 9, 2014 at 4:05:33 AM
Justfkn amazing. Thank you all for this letter. Be... by remo on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 4:29:46 PM
ok. I'm doing reasonably fine up to the odius vamp... by remo on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 at 11:45:26 PM
Very valuable, thanks ... by BFalcon on Thursday, Jan 9, 2014 at 12:00:08 AM
The problem with this article, is the author acce... by Eddy Schmid on Thursday, Jan 9, 2014 at 4:02:05 AM