Posted at: 06/13/2013 10:24 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) - He didn't offer details, but the director of the National Security Agency is telling lawmakers his agency's once-secret surveillance programs have helped disrupt dozens of terrorist attacks.
At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, Army Gen. Keith Alexander vigorously defended the programs as an effective tool in keeping America safe. But he also said the public needs to know more about how the programs operate. Alexander said he wants the American people to know that the government is "trying to be transparent" and protecting civil liberties as well as the nation's security.
Alexander answered senators' questions in an open session, describing the steps the government takes once it suspects a terrorist organization is about to act - all within the laws approved by Congress and under stringent oversight from the courts. He also promised to provide additional information to the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed session on Thursday.
The director of national intelligence has declassified information on two thwarted attacks - one in New York, the other in Chicago - and Alexander says he's pressing for more disclosures.
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