NSA Chief: Intel Prevented ‘Potential Terrorist Events’ over 50 Times Since 9/11

June 18, 2013 - 10:48 AM

Gen. Keith Alexander

Gen. Keith Alexander (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Section 215 of the Patriot Act and other intelligence prevent the U.S. and its allies from terrorist threats worldwide 50 times since 9/11.

“In recent years, these programs - together with other intelligence – have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe, to include helping to prevent the potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11,” said Alexander.

He said if Section 215 had been in place prior to 9/11, “we may have known that the 9/11 hijacker,” Khalid al-Midar, “was located in San Diego and communicating with a known al Qaeda safehouse in Yemen.”

“The events of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred in part because of a failure on the part of our government to connect those dots. Some of those dots were in the United States. The intelligence community was not able to connect those domestic dots – phone calls between operatives in the U.S. and al Qaeda terrorists overseas,” Alexander explained.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, however, helped the government “close that gap by enabling the detection of telephone contact between terrorists overseas and operatives within the United States,” he said.

Alexander offered to provide documents to the committee on Wednesday “that in a classified setting gives every one of those cases” for review.

“We’ll add two more today publicly that we’ll discuss, but as the chairman noted, if we give all those out, we give all the secrets of how we’re tracking down the terrorists as a community, and we can’t do that. Too much is at risk for us and for our allies,” he added.

“Ironically, the documents that have been released so far show the rigorous oversight and balance security with civil liberties and privacy,” Alexander said, adding that he would rather be sitting before the committee “debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11.”