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NSA's Talking Turkey

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Well sure Aunt Betty, I'd love another helping. Ha, ha, yes, I do like that stuffing.

By the way, I'm not sure if I've told you lately, but NSA has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our military and coalition partners, providing timely and actionable data so they could 'see' and take action against the threats they faced.

Wine? Oh sure.

And hey.. a fun fact. Since 9/11 NSA programs have disrupted 54 terrorist events, 13 of those had a homeland nexus... Ooh touchdown!


If you were lucky enough to share the holidays (as in last weekend's American Thanksgiving) with an employee of the National Security Agency, that may have been the scintillating dinner conversation you enjoyed thanks to a NSA "Talking Point" memo.

Firedoglake acquired the two-page memo that was reportedly given to employees and begins: "NSA's mission is of great value to the Nation." Other phrases in bold and underlined for emphasis include, "the right way," "exceptionally well," "the people" and "increased transparency, public dialog, and faithful implementation (of "changes required by our overseers.")

Employees were "authorized" to share these points with "family and close friends."

As Kevin Gosztola explains in Firedoglake, many of the assertions in the memo are likely false - at the very least nuanced - including the much-disputed claim about the electronic eavsdropping agency's involvement in disrupting 54 terrorist events. 

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has pressed NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, on this point. "Would you agree that the 54 cases that keep getting cited by the administration were not all plots, and of the 54, only 13 had some nexus to the U.S.?" Leahy asked at an October Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”

Alexander replied: "Yes." 

The list of the 54 cases was provided to Congress, but remains classified.


Pass the turkey.


Michelle Shephard is the Star's National Security correspondent and author of "Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone." She is a three-time recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award. Follow her on Twitter @shephardm


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