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Former NSA official says agency collects Americans' web data, director denies charges

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The NSA director, General Keith Alexander, is coming under scrutiny after he told a crowd gathered at the Def Con hacker conference that the spy agency "absolutely" does not collect data from and maintain files on American citizens. A former official stopped just shy of calling Alexander a liar, accusing him of playing a "word game." William Binney left the department in late 2001, when it became apparent to him that it planned to use the terrorist attacks on September 11th as an "excuse" to launch a data collection program that was already in the planning stages. Alexander for his part maintains that any data, be it web searches, Twitter posts or emails, collected from American citizens is merely incidental, and associated with intelligence gathering on foreign entities.

Of course, Binney rejects this claim and testimony from Qwest CEO James Nacchio regarding the NSA's wiretapping program would seem to contradict it. ACLU attorney Alex Abdo, who was on the panel with Alexander, cast further doubt on the director's denial. He noted that loopholes in the law allow the NSA collect vast amounts of information on Americans, without them being the "target" of the surveillance. Since the agency can hold on to any data collected, it can retroactively build dossiers on citizens, should they eventually become the focus of an investigation. For a few more details, hit up the source link.

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