WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has a formal policy of invoking the September 11 terrorist attacks as a justification for its spying operations, according to a document obtained by Al Jazeera.
The document, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, encouraged government officials to deflect questions from the media and the public by warning that more Americans could die in domestic attacks if the NSA did not engage in widespread surveillance activities, such as those brought to light by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Under the subheading “Sound Bites That Resonate,” the document suggests the statement “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander essentially used that same statement when he testified before Congress on June 18 in defense of unpopular NSA programs.
The talking points document also advises officials to repeat the word “lawful” when discussing NSA surveillance programs, and to state that “our allies have benefited … just as we have.”