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Leaks have forced tighter security for intel techs: NSA

By Agence France-Press in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-24 07:16

Computer technician Edward Snowden's blowing the lid on US surveillance of phone calls and Web traffic has forced a tightening of security on system operators like him, the NSA said on Sunday.

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander said it is overhauling its operations to keep a closer watch on contractors like the fugitive Snowden, who had top security clearance and "stole some of our secrets".

Alexander, interviewed on ABC television, was not asked about Snowden's departure from his first haven Hong Kong for Moscow en route reportedly to a third nation.

According to WikiLeaks, unidentified diplomats are escorting Snowden in his bid to secure political asylum in a country yet to be disclosed.

Alexander described Snowden as an NSA computer system administrator with top secret security clearance who betrayed his nation by taking a trove of information from the NSA and fleeing from his base in Hawaii to Hong Kong.

No red flags went up to detect that theft, Alexander said, and the NSA is working to overhaul things to prevent a repeat.

"Clearly, the system did not work as it should have," Alexander said.

"We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they are doing, what they are taking," the army general said, adding that the NSA is implementing what he called a "two man rule". He did not elaborate.

"We've changed the passwords. But at the end of the day we have to trust that our people are going to do the right thing," Alexander said.

He repeated assertions that the ultimate goal of the surveillance programs is to prevent terrorist attacks and that some 50 plots had been foiled so far thanks to the programs.


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