National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander was heckled by an audience of cybersecurity specialists and computer hackers on Wednesday at this year’s Black Hat conference in Las Vegas while he attempted to defend the NSA as an organization that “stands for freedom.”
Alexander had been invited to give a talk at the conference before recent revelations in the Guardian newspaper, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, exposed the NSA’s vast, unchecked, dragnet surveillance programs.
Alexander was given the option of backing out of the conference, but organizers said he chose to go through with it anyway.
In the speech, Alexander attempted to portray the NSA’s programs as not as bad as the revelations have made them out to be—a pitch several members of the audience did not buy.
Halfway through the speech, 30-year-old security consultant Jon McCoy shouted, “Freedom!”
“Exactly,” Alexander replied from the stage. “We stand for freedom.”
“Bullshit!” McCoy responded.
“I think what you’re saying is that in these cases, what’s the distinction, where’s the discussion and what tools do we have to stop this?” Alexander said.
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