Keith Alexander: More
Than 50 Potential Terrorist Acts Prevented
June 18, 2013
National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander says NSA
surveillance programs have helped prevent more than 50 terrorist attacks
He said two recently disclosed surveillance programs that gather U.S.
phone records and track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by
foreigners with possible links to terrorism "are critical to protecting
General Alexander gave a congressional committee some information on two
cases he said the programs thwarted. One a plot from Yemen to bomb the
New York Stock Exchange and another that involved providing funding for
a Somalia-based terrorist group.
He said he would give the committee documents about the rest of the
cases Wednesday in a classified setting.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole also testified that there are several
checks for abuse in the surveillance programs and they have oversight by
all three branches of government.
The committee chairman, Republican Mike Rogers, and top Democratic
member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger agreed the programs are legal as well as
critical. They criticized the recent leaks about the programs, with
Rogers calling it "criminal behavior".
Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama repeated earlier assertions the NSA
programs were a legitimate counterterror tool and completely noninvasive
to people with no terror ties.
In a PBS television interview, he insisted the NSA phone and Internet
monitoring efforts operate within the law.
"What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA
cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your
emails. ... And have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule,
and unless they - and usually it would not be they, it would be the FBI
- go to a court and obtain a warrant," he said.
National intelligence legal chief Robert S. Litt said under the programs
any information collected on a conversation because of an error must be
purged from the system.