NSA to reveal number of thwarted terror attacks
The National Security Agency on Monday will release the number of terror plots it says has been thwarted by its sweeping telephone data surveillance program, a top US lawmaker told reporters.
Senator Dianne Feinstein made her remarks Thursday, after NSA chief General Keith Alexander told a hearing earlier this week that "dozens" of plots were scuppered thanks to the program, whose existence was leaked by a defence contractor.
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Alexander "wants to be exact -- there's more than you think."
She continued: "We should have that shortly -- (Alexander) said Monday."
Feinstein spoke to reporters after intelligence officials held a classified briefing Thursday with nearly half the Senate's 100 members.
The decision to reveal more about two controversial programs run by the NSA came after several US lawmakers expressed concern about their scope and reach.
A defense contractor working at the NSA revealed to The Guardian newspaper last week that the programs scoop up millions of phone records as well as Internet data and emails from around the world.
Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed alarm about the programs, with Republican Senator Rand Paul vowing to sue the NSA for what he has characterized as a vast overreach of power.
Two longstanding opponents to broad domestic surveillance, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, on Thursday demanded proof that the phone data roundup specifically helped avert dozens of terrorist attacks.
"We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA's dragnet collection of Americans' phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence," the two said in a statement.
They added that all of the plots mentioned by Alexander "appear to have been identified using other collection methods."
"The public deserves a clear explanation," Udall and Wyden said.
Meanwhile, House of Representatives Democrat Loretta Sanchez, who attended a House intelligence briefing on the surveillance, warned on the C-Span cable television channel that the revelations by leaker Edward Snowden were "only the tip of the iceberg."
Sanchez called for greater transparency and debate about the programs, as well as the inclusion of many more US lawmakers into the classified intelligence loop.
The Democrat also expressed frustration with what she described as "this process of the intelligence committee versus what the Congress knows."