NSA Chief: Surveillance Stopped 'Dozens' of Plots

Gen. Keith Alexander defends data mining

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 12, 2013 4:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – The head of the NSA told a Senate panel today that his agency's controversial surveillance had helped prevent "dozens of terrorist events," reports the Wall Street Journal. Gen. Keith Alexander said he couldn't go into specifics but was working to declassify some of the details. He did mention two cases in which the information helped bring about arrests, reports the Washington Post—that of Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to plotting suicide attacks in New York City, and David Headley, who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Also of note is an exchange with Susan Collins in which she makes reference to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, reports ThinkProgress:

  • Collins: “I saw an interview in which Mr. Snowden claimed that due to his position at NSA he could tap into virtually any American’s phone call or e-mails. True or false?”
  • Alexander: “False, I know of no way to do that.”
Click to read about how one senator halted the hearing to respond to a reporter's tweet.

Gen. Keith B. Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill.
Gen. Keith B. Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Gen. Keith B. Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill.
Gen. Keith B. Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., holds up his Verizon cell phone as he questions the general.
Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., holds up his Verizon cell phone as he questions the general.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. holds up her BlackBerry as she responds to a tweet she just received during today's hearing.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. holds up her BlackBerry as she responds to a tweet she just received during today's hearing.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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