The federal government's tracking of telephone calls and Internet activity helped foil a 2009 terror plot on the New York City subway system, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Fox News
and the Associated Press.
The disclosure on Friday by the U.S. official, whose identity was not released, came a day after Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that the surveillance programs had thwarted a terrorism plot, the news agencies report.
The information also comes amid increasing calls by civil libertarians and some members of Capitol Hill to rein in the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
They contend that the telephone and Internet programs for hunting terrorists were too broad and collected too much information about innocent Americans.
The NSA, under one program, collected daily records of millions of phone calls made and received by U.S. citizens who were Verizon customers, though they were not suspected of wrongdoing.
The senior U.S. intelligence official told the news agencies that the phone records program along with other technical intercepts thwarted the subway plot. The official would not be more specific.
The official was not authorized to discuss the plot publicly and requested anonymity.
Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American, pleaded guilty in the 2009 plot, saying he had been recruited by al-Qaida in Pakistan.
The break in the case came, according to court documents and testimony, when Zazi emailed a Yahoo address seeking help with his bomb recipe, Fox reports.
CBS News has also reported that the so-called PRISM program helped foil the plot, which would have detonated bombs in the Grand Central and Times Square subway stations during rush hour, according to the news agencies.
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