News / USA

    NSA Chief: Surveillance Helped Stop 'Dozens' of Attacks

    Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 12, 2013, before the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
    Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 12, 2013, before the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
    The head of the National Security Agency told a U.S. congressional panel on Wednesday that dozens of terrorist attacks have been prevented thanks to a recently revealed surveillance program that has raised concerns about privacy.

    Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, appeared before a Senate panel looking into cybersecurity threats.
     
    But a number of senators appeared more concerned about a secret surveillance program that has been mining Americans’ telephone and Internet data.
     
    Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked the NSA chief how many attacks had been thwarted by data collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was signed into law shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
     
    Alexander: It’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent.
    Leahy: Ok, so dozens.  Now we collect millions of millions of millions of records through 215, but dozens of them have proved crucial, or critical, is that right?  Dozens?
    Alexander: For both here and abroad, in disrupting or contributing to the disruption of terrorist attacks.”
    Leahy: Out of those millions, dozens have been critical.”
    Alexander: That’s correct.
     
    The questioning came after details of the program were leaked by a government contractor.
     
    Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois pointed out that the contractor, Edward Snowden, was a 29-year-old high school dropout who had worked as a security guard at the NSA.  Durbin said he wanted to look at that resume.

    “And ask you if you’re troubled that he was given that kind of opportunity to be so close to important information that was critical to the security of our nation,” Durbin said.

    “I do have concerns about that, over the process, Senator.  I have great concerns over that, the access that he had, Alexander said.
     
    Alexander, who also heads the U.S. Cyber Command, promised to declassify some information in the coming days to show that the surveillance programs are working lawfully and in the national interest.
     
    “This is not us doing something under the covers, this is what we’re doing on behalf of all of us, for the good of this country.  Now, what we need to do, I think, is to bring as many facts as we can out to the American people," Alexander said.
     
    Several lawmakers said that U.S. intelligence agencies are engaged in a cyber war and need, as one of them put it, “a little space.”

    Jerome Socolovsky

    Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sammy
    June 13, 2013 12:26 PM
    Please Mr Alexander you dont have to justify or prove anything.
    Playing your cards in public is not a "smart". Dont go down this road, it is not necessary. France and Israel dont explain security operations and neither should the USA.
    In Response

    by: li baba from: new york
    June 13, 2013 9:22 PM
    what you are going to say. terrorism are well organize and well paid by gulf countries and us have to stop them. . we are not talking about pretext. it is a fact

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    June 13, 2013 7:21 AM
    The surveillance is a national necessity, so no one should see it a hacking into their personal secrets. America has been known to be a free country and those in want of elaborate secrecy should look for somewhere else. If the security operatives must do their world and do well, they should be allowed the free hand to carry it out to the satisfaction of all and especially so that the country is secure. If they had done it this way in the past, 9/11 would not have happened.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    June 12, 2013 10:23 PM
    surveillance program is a good method to prevent terror attack and it has to continue to save lives. we are dealing with invisible enemy that has higher skill to hide himself and the enemy which is very vicious and full of hatred .we have to use any means necessary to defend the nation and keep the country safe we should not listen .civil liberties .if we listen to them ,we shall see the bodies of innocent people on the street

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