http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbc-news/52241371 via @nbcnews
National Security Agency surveillance programs helped disrupt plots to bomb the New York Stock Exchange and the New York subway system, an FBI official told Congress on Tuesday.
The official, Deputy Director Sean Joyce, said that the programs also linked an American citizen in Chicago to the 2008 terror attacks on hotels in India and to a plot to bomb the offices of a Danish newspaper that published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
Joyce and other officials appeared before the House Intelligence Committee to defend the surveillance programs after a 29-year-old NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, provided details of them to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, told the committee that the programs had helped stop more than 50 “potential terrorist events” since the Sept. 11 attacks. He said he would provide classified details of all of them to the committee Wednesday.
“I would much rather be here today debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11,” Alexander said.
Joyce gave limited details on the foiled plots. In the stock exchange plot, he said, the NSA used Internet surveillance to find an extremist in Yemen who was in contact with an operative in the United States. He said that intelligence agents were able to detect “nascent plotting” to bomb the exchange.
In the subway plot, he said, the NSA intercepted an email from a terrorist in Pakistan in 2009 who was talking with someone in the United States about perfecting a recipe for explosives. He said that person turned out to be Najibullah Zazi, who later pleaded guilty in the plot and is in federal prison.
The NSA director said that the programs are critical to protecting the country, are limited and subject to rigorous oversight, and carefully protect the civil liberties of Americans.
In introducing Alexander, the committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said that Americans’ trust in government to protect the country has been damaged by “inaccuracies, half-truths and outright lies” about intelligence programs.
“It is at times like these when our enemies within become almost as damaging as our enemies on the outside,” Rogers said.
Alexander said that Snowden’s disclosures would have a “long and irreversible impact” on the security of the United States and its allies.
“This is significant,” he said.
http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbc-news/52240543 via @nbcnews
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