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NSA director to testify before Congress; leak scandal likely topic

The director of the National Security Agency is heading to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers likely will grill him Wednesday on how a low-level contractor was able to access and leak top-secret information on the agency's telecommunications surveillance program.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who heads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, is scheduled to discuss the state of cybersecurity at the Pentagon before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

But that issue is likely to take a back seat to the scandal caused by Edward Joseph Snowden, 29, a former information technician for the contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Mr. Snowden revealed details about the NSA's Prism program, under which the agency collects "metadata" — the time and length of telephone calls, the calling and receiving numbers, and the two parties' locations — on every phone call made or received in the United States, and massive amounts of content data — the texts of emails or the sounds of people talking on Internet calls — directly from Internet providers.

Gen. Alexander took charge of NSA in 2005 and is set to retire early next year.

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