The National Security Agency advised employees to use the September 11 attacks as a talking point when justifying the agency’s controversial surveillance techniques.
According to a master list of NSA talking points obtained by Al-Jazeera, the NSA cited 9/11 as the top talking point to use when defending its widespread surveillance programs. The intelligence agency specifically suggested the phrase, “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
Obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, the 27-page document makes several more references to 9/11. Later, the document suggests claiming that “after 9/11 it was determined that the intelligence community failed to connect the dots,” before suggesting that programs such as the recently revealed PRISM and MUSCULAR are all part of an effort to “connect the dots.”
The talking points also repeatedly emphasize that the NSA’s intelligence-gathering attempts are all legal, often underlining the word “legal” for emphasis.
As Al-Jazeera notes, NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander used remarkably similar talking points when defending the NSA’s surveillance programs this summer.
"I would much rather be here today debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11," Alexander told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee at a hearing on June 18.
"In recent years these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent ... potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11," he continued.
When asked by Al-Jazeera to comment on these talking points, NSA media representative Vanee M. Vines also stuck to the official script, telling the news outlet that “it is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked.”
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.