NSA Chief: NSA Employees Act ‘Lawfully,’ ‘Protecting Civil Liberties and Privacy’

By Curtis Houck | June 13, 2013 | 6:54 PM EDT

Gen. Keith Alexander (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Army Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and head of U.S. Cyber Command, praised the work of government intelligence programs Wednesday and declared that they do their jobs "lawfully" as well as protect the civil liberties and privacy of Americans.

Alexander said that the employees of NSA and Cyber Command do their jobs "lawfully" and "take compliance oversight," all while "protecting civil liberties and privacy" and take the "security of this nation to their heart(s)."

"From my perspective, the men and women of Cyber Command and NSA, we have tremendous technical talent. We really do. And these are great people. Our nation has invested a lot in these people," he said before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Alexander’s testimony before the full committee was the first time an NSA official publicly answered to Congress since news leaked from an NSA contractor that the agency is collecting phone and internet records from Americans as part of NSA intelligence gathering.

Alexander said he “could not be more proud of the men and women of NSA and Cyber Command.” U.S. Cyber Command is a sub-unified command of the armed forces under the U.S. Strategic Command and the Department of Defense.

He also discussed the necessity of the intelligence community to have a relationship with those in the technology and communication industries in executing the mission of keeping America safe.

"We have to have some way of working with industry, because they own and operate the bulk of our nation's infrastructure, and we have to do it in a transparent, (and) in a legal way," Alexander said.