'This Week' Transcript: NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander

To get to the point that Pierre (ph) was just making, do you understand why the system did not blink red in a way that could prevent Snowden from leaving Hawaii in the first place with his secrets?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NSA: No, I don't. It's clearly an individual who's betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him. This is an individual who is not acting, in my opinion, with noble intent.

And when you think about what our mission is, I want to jump into that, because I think it reflect on the question you're asking.

You know, my first responsibility to the American people is to defend this nation. And when you think about it, defending the nation, let's look back at 9/11 and what happened.

The intel community failed to connect the dots in 9/11. And much of what we've done since then were to give us the capabilities -- and this is the business record FISA, what's sometimes called Section 215 and the FAA 702 -- two capabilities that help us connect the dots.

The reason I bring that up is that these are two of the most important things from my perspective that helps us understand what terrorists are trying to do. And if you think about that, what Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies.

When -- on Friday, we pushed a Congress over 50 cases where these contributed to the understanding and, in many cases, disruptions of terrorist plots. And I brought with me a quote, because I thought it was important to read this, and as an Army officer, you may know I can't read that good. But I'm going to try.

This is a report issued by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2012 in support of the reauthorization of the 2008 amendments to FISA, and I quote, "Through four years of oversight, the committee has not identified a single case in which a government official engaged in willful effort to circumvent or violate the law."

What that means specifically is we take protecting our civil liberties and privacy as one of our key foundational values.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to ask more about that, General. But first, one more question about -- pretty startling that you didn't know how he could -- why the alarm bells did not go off.

So what's to say that this couldn't happen again? There are about 3.5 million private contractors who's classed as top secret classification; about a million with government clearances. How can you prevent this from happening again?

ALEXANDER: Well, this is a key issue that we've got to work our way through. Clearly the system did not work as it should have. He betrayed the trust and confidence we had in him. This is an individual with top secret clearance whose duty it was to administer these networks. He betrayed that confidence and stole some of our secrets.

We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they're doing, what they're taking, a two-man rule. 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. This is an extremely important mission defending our country.

When they betray that trust, well, then we have to push it over to the Department of Justice and others for the appropriate action.

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