NSA head General Keith Alexander has said that “dozens” of planned terrorist attacks have been foiled by US intelligence thanks to the controversial data mining programs revealed last week.
In a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday the National Security Agency chief was asked whether the intelligence programs could account for any successful interventions in terror plots.
Gen. Alexander proceeded to describe two cases, with declassified details, where he believed PRISM and the other operations had proved their value to national security.
One case cited by Alexander was the planned suicide attacks in New York, aborted after an Afghan American named Najibullah Zazi was apprehended and later plead guilty to the plot.
Pakistani American David Headley, believed to be tied to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, which claimed more than 160 lives, was also found and arrested, thanks to data mining operations, he said.
NSA head Gen. Alexander asserted that other terrorist plots have been prevented because of the controversial US intelligence programs, however those details remain classified.
Alexander also went on to stress the importance of the NSA’s accountability:
“We operate in a way that ensures we keep the trust of the American people because that trust is a sacred requirement. We do not see a trade-off between security and liberty.”
This is somewhat different from Obama’s recent comments, where he says he welcomes discussion but has said he believes some privacy sacrifice is necessary for security.
“Given the nature of our work, of course, few outside … can know the details of what we do or see that we operate every day under strict guidelines and accountability.”
The Senate hearing comes after a series of explosive leaks regarding several previously top secret NSA and FBI intelligence programs found to be involved in collecting and monitoring a wide variety of citizens’ personal information and communications.
[Image via Wikipedia / NSA.gov]