The 9/11 terrorist attack has been used by the U.S. government to justify invading Iraq and Afghanistan, torture suspects at CIA black sites and perform invasive searches of American citizens at U.S. airports.
Now, it's been revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) used the 9/11 tragedy as a talking point to justify its mass secret surveillance on Americans' phone calls and web activities.
Al Jazeera America obtained a NSA memo, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that included talking points for NSA officials to use when responding to the initial leaks by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
One of the talking points of the memo is:
I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.
According to Al Jazeera, NSA head General Keith Alexander used an augmented version of that statement to Congress on June 18.
“It is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked,” stated Gen. Alexander.
NSA officials were also advised to respond to any questions about any potential civil liberties violations by saying there were not any “willful violations” and the NSA is “upholding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.”
This past summer Gen. Alexander claimed that there had been no "no willful or knowledgeable violations" of privacy and cited a Congressional review, noted The Washington Post.
Of course, this turned out to be a huge lie only weeks later when the NSA confirmed to Bloomberg News in August that some NSA personnel ignored restrictions on their authority to spy on Americans.