Chris Good reports:
NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander addressed the new Guardian reports of mass U.S. email collection on Thursday, saying the NSA terminated the program because it was ineffective and wasn’t worth the risk to citizens’ privacy.
The Guardian, to which Edward Snowden leaked details of a broad U.S. program to collect phone records of citizens, reported on Thursday that Guardian-obtained NSA documents show a similar program to collect email records. The program, which reportedly began in 2001 under President Bush, continued until 2011 under President Obama and involved mass collection of email “metadata”–records, but not the contents of emails–between U.S. citizens and email accounts outside the country.
“We started that debate and said this did not have the value to stop the terrorist attacks that we need,” Alexander said during a speech in Baltimore. “We went forward to the administration and Congress and, with all their support, shut that program down, because it wasn’t meeting what we needed and we thought we could better protect civil liberties and privacy by doing away with it.”
Alexander said NSA did not keep the data it had collected under the program.
“All that data was purged at that time,” Alexander said.