General Keith Alexander has tried to shore up support for the National Security Agency by claiming the activities of its employees are closely monitored and that there is "100 percent audibility," as if Americans need not worry about rogue actions by staffers. "The assumption is our people are just out there wheeling and dealing. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said of the agency he directs. "We have tremendous oversight over these programs. We can audit the actions of our people 100 percent, and we do that."
So how does he explain the latest news? A weekend story in the New York Times cites senior Obama Administration officials declaring that they may never know the full extent of what contractor Edward Snowden took before leaving the United States for Hong Kong.
"Investigators remain in the dark about the extent of the data breach partly because the N.S.A. facility in Hawaii where Mr. Snowden worked ... was not equipped with up-to-date software that allows the spy agency to monitor which corners of its vast computer landscape its employees are navigating at any given time," the newspaper reports. "Six months since the investigation began, officials said Mr. Snowden had further covered his tracks by logging into classified systems using the passwords of other security agency employees, as well as by hacking firewalls installed to limit access to certain parts of the system."