Throughout the whole Ed Snowden ordeal, defenders of the NSA and the surveillance state keep insisting that revealing even the slightest details of the NSA’s capabilities help our enemies “win” because they’ll learn how to avoid the surveillance. As such, they’ve been wringing their hands about how any revelation of what the NSA is up to will cause immense damage. Just recently, the NSA pressed hard on the Washington Post not to reveal the name of the country where the NSA is currently recording every single phone call. The Washington Post agreed to withhold this information — a decision that some have challenged.
However, barely a week later, in a glowing profile by the LA Times of now-retired NSA boss Keith Alexander, his former number two guy at the NSA, Chris Inglis, who also just retired, breezily admits to the depth of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities in Iraq, information that prior to this had not been public:
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.
The entire article is a weak (and grossly transparent) attempt to recast General Keith Alexander’s legacy — and thus it seems that Inglis, Alexander and the NSA have no problem at all revealing the details of its capabilities in Iraq when the entire purpose in doing so is an attempt to show how good Alexander was for the NSA. Rest assured, however, had the same bit of information come out from one of the reporters with access to the Snowden documents, the NSA and all its defenders would be screaming as loud as possible about how the publication of such information would cost lives and create immense damage to American interests while aiding our enemies. Yet, apparently, it’s all fine and dandy to reveal such information… when it’s part of the effort to canonize the NSA retired leader.