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www.wmfd.com - A Senate hearing Wednesday detailed the government's secret surveillance program disclosed last week. }}" />

   
 
 
Leaders Question Secret Surveillance Program

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 6/13/2013A Senate hearing Wednesday detailed the government's secret surveillance program disclosed last week.   While leaders in Washington have many questions, the director of the National Security Agency says the program is key to preventing terrorism.    Dana Bash has details.   It is one of the big questions about the newly revealed secret program collecting millions of phone records.   Has it really stopped terror attacks?   The head of one of the most secret spy agencies was ready wih an answer.   "It is dozens of terrorist event that these have helped prevent," says Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency Director.   Alexander told senators he planned to make the number of thwarted plots public soon, in an attempt to prove to Americans worried about government snooping, it's worth it.   "This is not us doing something under the covers, this is what we're doing on behalf of all of us for the good of this country," says Alexander.   He credited another classified program, looking at private information of internet users, known as Prism, with unearthing a plot to blow up New York subways, and preventing the attack.   "Not just critical, it was the one that developed the lead on it.  So I would say it was the one that allowed us to know it was happening," says Alexander.   Despite his vigorous defense of controversial programs, senators voiced skepticism.   "It certainly defies logic that you need to collect all of the telephone calls made in the 312 area code on the chance that one of those persons might be on the other end of the phone," said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.   On display, concern about civil liberties makes for strange political bedfellows, conservatives agreeing with liberals.   "What I worry about is how far do you believe this authority extends?" asked Republican Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska.   "Here I have my Verizon phone, my cell phone. What authorized investigation gave you the grounds for inquiring my cell phone data?" asked Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.   To be sure, thre is also bipartisan support of sweeping surveillance.   Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine wanted to correct the record on this claim from Edward Snowden.   "I saw an interview in which Mr. Snowden claimed that due to his position at NSA he could tap into virtually any American's phone calls or emails. True or false?" she asked.   "False," said Gen. Alexander. "I know no way to do that."   Pressed by senators about the importance of a public debate, Alexander promised to declassify information about these secret programs, but also warned, a lot will remain secret.   "If we tell the terrorists every way that we are going to track them, they will get through and Americans will die," said Gen. Alexander. "That is wrong."   "The NSA director made clear several times he could not fully answer senator's questions in a public forum, but they will have the chance to pepper him in private on Thursday when he returns for a classified briefing with all senators," said CNN reporter Dana Bash.  
   
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