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NSA director: Surveillance programs foiled 50 terror plots

Jun. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By Kevin Johnson USA TODAY   |   Comments
NSA Director Gen. Alexander Testifies To House Hea
Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in Washington. The committee heard testimony on the topic of 'how the disclosed NSA programs protect Americans from terror attacks on US soil and why the disclosure of that classified information aids our adversaries.' (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander told a House committee Tuesday that 50 terror threats in 20 countries have been disrupted with the assistance of two secret surveillance programs recently disclosed by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

At least 10 of the plots targeted the U.S. homeland, Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee, including a plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.

“I would much rather be here today debating this,” Alexander told lawmakers, referring to the programs’ value, “than explaining why we were unable to prevent another 9/11” attack.

At the rare open committee hearing, Alexander and Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole told lawmakers that both surveillance operations -- a domestic telephone tracking system that collects records of millions of Americans and an Internet monitoring program targeting noncitizens outside the U.S. -- have been subject to rigorous oversight to guard against privacy abuses.

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