Fmr 'Perfect Partner' NSA Head: We're 'the Only Agency in Government that Really Listens'

Fmr 'Perfect Partner' NSA Head: We're 'the Only Agency in Government that Really Listens'

On the Sunday debut of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” Ret. Gen. Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command made an appearance to discuss potential rebranding efforts for the National Security Agency with host John Oliver…

Partial transcript as follows:

OLIVER: So finally, let’s talk about branding. The NSA’s brand has been damaged. I think that’s fair to say. Right?


OLIVER: As we learned with Blackwater, you don’t have to change the substance of anything that you do as long as you visibly rebrand. So let’s try this. The Washington Redskins. It’s a slightly less tainted brand than yours.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, but probably not a good one to go with.

OLIVER: Sorry. OK, no good. How about this — Mr. Tiggles is not just the mascot. It’s also the name of the agency, like Chucky Cheese. Then a journalist can’t say, ‘The NSA is storing huge amounts of data on foreign countries.’ Instead it says, ‘Mr. Tickles is storing huge amounts of data in boots … you’ve massively overstepped your bounds, Mr. Tiggles. Oh, but I can’t stay mad because you’re going to keep me safe.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work.

OLIVER: How about rebranding yourself as a great listener?

ALEXANDER: The only agency in government that really listens.

OLIVER: That’s what I’m saying. That’s what I’m saying because in many ways, the NSA is the perfect partner. So let me introduce you to the new NSA, Trevor.

ALEXANDER: I think this is good.

OLIVER: Tell us about your day. Everything about it. How was work? How is he, how has he been doing?


OLIVER: So if you had to choose one of these, which would it be?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think that’s something that perhaps you could have people vote on.

OLIVER: So there you have it. At long last, Americans are being allowed to vote on something having to do with the NSA. Just pick up your phone and call any number and say a, b, or c into the handset. Don’t worry, your vote will be collected…

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor