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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

 
Did "Emperor Alexander" spill the beans?

by digby

If not, this fine fellow needs to leave the government and start counting his spoils ... er collecting his fat paycheck in the private sector sooner rather than later. He's getting more and more Strangelovian by the minute:
General Keith Alexander, who has furiously denounced the Snowden revelations, said at a Tuesday cybersecurity panel that unspecified “headway” on what he termed “media leaks” was forthcoming in the next several weeks, possibly to include “media leaks legislation.”

In perhaps his most expansive remarks to date since Miranda – the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – was detained for nine hours at Heathrow airport last summer, Alexander noted that a panel of UK judges found Miranda’s detention to be legal.

“Recently, what came out with the justices in the United Kingdom … they looked at what happened on Miranda and other things, and they said it’s interesting: journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues. They don’t know how to weigh the fact of what they’re giving out and saying, is it in the nation’s interest to divulge this,” Alexander said.
That's right. Only government "experts" can understand the "national interest." Journalists and outside experts (much less mere citizens) are just not equipped to make such decisions. Let's move along now.

And then he said something very curious. He said he was meeting with the White House about mass phone collection changes. And added this:
“We’ve got to handle media leaks first,” Alexander said.

“I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier,” Alexander said.

The specific legislation to which Alexander referred was unclear. Angela Canterbury, the policy director for the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group, said she was unaware of any such bill. Neither was Steve Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists.

The NSA’s public affairs office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alexander has previously mused about “stopping” journalism related to the Snowden revelations.

“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” he told an official Defense Department blog in October.
There has been a lot of handwringing and chest beating about arresting journalist and making the publishing of leaks akin to "trafficking in stolen goods" and other wildly undemocratic nonsense by various members of the government over the past few months. But this is the first anybody's heard of proposed legislation (or anything else) to "deal" with media leaks. Eric Holder has not entirely closed the door on prosecution and FBI Director Comey didn't rule it out entirely, but neither of them have sounded eager to get into this. So I don't know what Alexander is talking about.

Spencer Ackerman asked the NSA about this today:



So maybe "Emperor Alexander" is just losing the thread. Let's hope so. This certainly lends itself to that conclusion:
In an October interview with the New York Times, Alexander said: “I do feel it’s important to have a public, transparent discussion on cyber so that the American people know what’s going on.”

But staff at Georgetown University, which sponsored the Tuesday cybersecurity forum, took the microphone away from a Guardian reporter who attempted to ask Alexander if the NSA had missed the signs of Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine, which appeared to take Obama administration policymakers by surprise.

Although the event was open to reporters, journalists were abruptly told following the NSA director’s remarks that they were not permitted to ask questions of Alexander, who did not field the Ukraine question. Following the event, security staff closed a stairwell gate on journalists who attempted to ask Alexander questions on his way out.

I guess he's Elvis now.
.

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