National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, second from right, testifies on Capitol Hill Tuesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Intelligence officials said Tuesday that the government’s sweeping surveillance efforts have helped thwart “potential terrorist events” more than 50 times since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and the officials detailed two new examples to illustrate the utility of the programs.
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, officials cited a nascent plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange and a case involving an individual providing financial support to an overseas terrorist group.
“In recent years, these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent the terrorist — the potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11,” National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the committee.
He said at least 10 of the plots targeted the United States.
FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce said Tuesday that a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act helped officials monitor a “known extremist in Yemen” who was in contact with an individual in the United States. The information led to disruption of the New York Stock Exchange plot, Joyce said.
Joyce also said that the use of a FISA business record provision helped officials with an investigation involving an individual who was communicating with an overseas terrorist.
“The NSA, using the business record FISA, tipped us off that this individual had indirect contacts with a known terrorist overseas,” said Joyce. “We were able to reopen this investigation, identify additional individuals through a legal process and were able to disrupt this terrorist activity.”
“So that’s four cases total that we have put out publicly,” Alexander said Tuesday.
The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper recently revealed the sweeping Internet and telephone surveillance techniques the NSA has utilized in recent years.
Here is what they told you today:
1. “Take our word for it we are not going to listen to your conversations. We are not going to use it against you. We now know that they did listen to our conversations and read our emails.
Fact: House Intelligence Committee officials have confirmed that they’re totally free to rifle through your data without a court order. As long as they think they might have a reason to be suspicious—any reason will do!—they’re free to go nuts.
2. We foiled terrorist plots because of this program.
Fact: They didn’t stop the Boston Bombings, even though those people had expired visas and were using cell phones to communicate. And the police state enforced with warrantless house searches after the shootout in Watertown didn’t catch the suspect either. It was only when the curfew was lifted that the guy was found hiding in the boat. All this was done in the name of security and safety.
3. We must obtain search warrants from the judges of the FISA court.
Confirmed: Court “Oversight” of NSA Surveillance Is a Total Joke: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court has been defanged. When asked, “Is the FISA court a rubber stamp?” NSA chief says no, but in the last two years, they’ve approved 4,000 orders, with zero rejections.
Here is what they are not saying:
Who is going to protect us from Obama? This is what you need to consider: The Obama Factor. He is partisan, vindictive and aloof when it comes to information. Eric Holder is beholden to Obama in a cult like manner. Holder runs the Department of Justice and the NSA answers to him. We already have proof through the scandals of the IRS, Benghazi and Fast and Furious, Spying on news Reporters , that Holder will abuse power and go after the enemies of Obama even when it violates the Constitution.
Terrorism must not become the latest excuse to expand the power of a runaway president. We must speak up before we lose all of our freedom.