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Congress grills intel officials on data-gathering practices; sharp words exchanged
Question of the Day
“They’ve helped us eliminate terrorist threats,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said at his weekly press briefing.
Democrats countered that public commentary is hampered by secrecy laws and promised that more details about the programs’ successes would be declassified as early as next week.
The NSA’s director, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, briefed the House and Senate intelligence committees about his agency’s data-collection efforts that were exposed last week by a former computer systems administrator.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that terrorists already are modifying their communication habits after leaks about NSA’s top-secret surveillance programs, which collect millions of telephone records and track foreign Internet activity on U.S. networks.
There are “changes we can already see being made by the folks who wish to do us harm, and our allies harm,” Mr. Rogers said without providing details.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said he expressed concern about Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information about the program and fled to Hong Kong.
In an interview published Thursday in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, Mr. Snowden claimed that the U.S. has long been attacking a Hong Kong university that routes all Internet traffic in and out of the semiautonomous Chinese region.
“The more we can get unclassified the more the public will understand,” Mr. Ruppersberger said after the briefing.
He said he hopes that details about “at least 10” terrorist plots that had been uncovered with the programs’ help could be revealed as soon as next week.
“It’s in the advantage of people who really want this program understood to get those examples out,” Mr. Rogers said.
But there are critics as well as defenders of NSA snooping on both sides of the aisle.
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About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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