What’s bugging The Weasel at the NSA?

Jeff Stein writes: Around the CIA’s executive suites a few years ago, General Keith Alexander was known as “The Weasel.” Not a weasel, The Weasel.

“He’d leave the room after some briefing or meeting or whatever and we’d all look at each other,” a former denizen of the spy agency’s seventh floor told me. “Sometimes we’d just laugh. We knew he’d just lied to us, or been less than truthful about something we were supposedly working on together.”

Now everybody in the world knows Alexander can be a proficient liar, thanks to Edward Snowden’s dripping spigot of top-secret NSA documents.

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, got a taste of the NSA director’s “weaseliness” this summer when he learned that Alexander’s claim that the agency’s massive data collection programs had thwarted 54 terrorist plots was a big fat lie. “The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs,” Leahy told Alexander.

When Google and Yahoo, who’ve made billions tracking our shopping habits, are upset about the NSA breaking into their servers, as was reported by The Washington Post this week, you know the agency is out of control.

Or is it?

The phrase “rogue elephant” comes to mind. It entered the political lexicon 40 years ago, after a series of revelations that Army intelligence, the NSA and the FBI had been spying on American citizens, particularly antiwar and civil rights activists, and that the CIA had been concocting assassination plots against Cuba’s Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders. [Continue reading…]

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