Earlier this month, National Security Agency (NSA) head Keith Alexander admitted that he had lied to the U.S. Congress and the American people in an attempt to justify the NSA’s growing surveillance of U.S. citizens. In June, while attempting to defend the secret NSA programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, Alexander claimed that over 50 terrorist plots had been thwarted though collection of the phone and internet records of American citizens. Alexander said that his agency had provided Congress with 54 specific cases in which the programs helped disrupt terror plots in the U.S. and around the world.
Just a few weeks before the “54 plots” claim, Alexander had testified to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee that NSA spying on American citizens had played a critical role in thwarting “dozens” of terrorist attacks. Alexander spent the next three months declaring that the NSA’s spying on Americans was preventing terrorism and another 9/11.
None of that was true as we found out a few weeks ago. Of the 54 alleged plots, only one or two were identified as a result of bulk phone record collection, according to Alexander’s most recent comments. That number has since been whittled down to just one incident that wasn’t a terrorist plot at all but was a case of a cab driver sending cash to an alleged terrorist organization. Bottom line ― the NSA spying on Americans has not stopped any terrorist plots, let alone dozens or 54.