US National Security Agency Deputy Director John Inglis has defended the agencyâ„¢s massive surveillance programs revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
In an interview with the NPR published on Friday, Inglis described the agencyâ„¢s collection of American phone data as an Å“insurance policy.”
Å“I don’t know that I’d want to go back in time and say that I would run the risk of not uncovering the one plot that I did or to not have that tool that’s an insurance policy to try to find something that crosses the seam from a foreign terrorist plot to something that might then be inserted into the United States as an activity here,” he said.
Å“I think we as a nation have to ask ourselves the policy question of what risks do we want to cover? Do we want to cover 100 percent of the risk? Or do we want to perhaps take a risk that from time to time something will get through?” the outgoing official argued.
Inglis also admitted that the NSA had examined electronic communications more than 44 million times in 2012, saying it does not mean the agency spied on 44 million people, since many targets of surveillance had multiple phone numbers or email accounts, which the agency examined multiple times.
Å“A particular terrorist might have dozens … hundreds of these selectors,” he said.
Inglis said that in hindsight, the NSA should have disclosed at least some details about its programs before Snowdenâ„¢s leaks.
He argued that Snowden did not do the NSA any favor by spilling its secrets and likened what Snowden did to Å“somebody who burned my house down [and] has given me an opportunity to perhaps build it in a way that I would prefer.”
Inglis retires Friday after more than seven years as the spy agencyâ„¢s No. two official.
President Barack Obama is expected to announce his decision about the future scope of mass espionage in the United States next Friday.
Source: Press TV