National Security Agency surveillance intelligence was pivotal in stopping 50 planned attacks in 20 countries, U.S. officials told a House Intelligence Committee Tuesday.
Attacks planned on the New York Stock Exchange, in the New York subway system and on a Danish newspaper were just some of the examples given by NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce in defense of the surveillance programs.
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“These programs are immensely valuable for protecting our nation
and securing the security of our allies,” the New York Times quoted Alexander telling the committee. “As Americans, we value our privacy and our civil liberties. As Americans, we also value our security and our safety. In the 12 years since the attacks on Sept. 11, we have lived in relative safety and security as a nation. That security is a direct result of the intelligence community’s quiet efforts to better connect the dots and learn from the mistakes that permitted those attacks to occur in 9/11.”
Alexander and Joyce were testifying at a rare open committee hearing
in response to inquiries about surveillance programs that were revealed by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.
Alexander and Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole told the committee that surveillance operations, including a domestic telephone tracking system that records calls, have “rigorous oversight” in place to avoid privacy abuses, according to the USA Today.
“This isn’t some rogue operation that some guys at the NSA are operating,” Alexander said.
Lawmakers questioned the agency leaders about privacy issues and the publicity that occurred after Snowden revealed the surveillance programs. They also expressed concern about Snowden’s access to such information, and Alexander said there are about 1,000 system administrators like Snowden who have access to the same information.
The open hearing is televised on Ustream.
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