NSA Director Says Plot to Bomb Wall Street Was Foiled

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, Director National Security Agency (NSA), and head of the US Cyber Command walks to a closed door U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee meeting, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from members of the intelligence community on the collection of personal data that helped the NSA thwart a number of terror plots from ever unfolding both domestically and abroad. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON - The director of the National Security Agency said Tuesday the government's sweeping surveillance programs have foiled some 50 terrorist plots worldwide, including one directed at the New York Stock Exchange, in a forceful defense of spy operations that was echoed by the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander said the two recently disclosed programs -- one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism -- are critical in the terrorism fight.

Intelligence officials have disclosed some details on two thwarted attacks, and Alexander offered some information on other attempts.

He said the NSA was monitoring a known extremist in Yemen who was in contact with an individual in the United States. Identifying that person and other individuals, Alexander said, officials "were able to detect a nascent plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange. ... The FBI disrupted and arrested these individuals."

The programs "assist the intelligence community to connect the dots," Alexander told the committee in a rare, open Capitol Hill hearing.

Alexander got no disagreement from the leaders of the panel, who have been outspoken in backing the programs since Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton, disclosed information to The Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the panel's top Democrat, said the programs were vital to the intelligence community and assailed Snowden's actions as criminal.

"It is at times like these where our enemies within become almost as damaging as our enemies on the outside," Rogers said.

Ruppersberger said the "brazen disclosures" put the United States and its allies at risk.

The general counsel for the intelligence community said the NSA cannot target phone conversations between callers inside the U.S. -- even if one of those callers was someone they were targeted for surveillance when outside the country.

The director of national intelligence's legal chief, Robert S. Litt, said that if the NSA finds it has accidentally gathered a phone call by a target who had traveled into the U.S. without their knowledge, they have to "purge" that from their system. The same goes for an accidental collection of any conversation because of an error.

Litt said those incidents are then reported to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which "pushes back" and asks how it happened, and what the NSA is doing to fix the problem so it doesn't happen again.

The hearing came the morning after President Barack Obama, who is attending the G-8 summit in Ireland, vigorously defended the surveillance programs in a lengthy interview Monday, calling them transparent -- even though they are authorized in secret.

"It is transparent," Obama told PBS' Charlie Rose in an interview. "That's why we set up the FISA court," the president added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes two recently disclosed programs: one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.

Obama said he has named representatives to a privacy and civil liberties oversight board to help in the debate over just how far government data gathering should be allowed to go -- a discussion that is complicated by the secrecy surrounding the FISA court, with hearings held at undisclosed locations and with only government lawyers present. The orders that result are all highly classified.

"We're going to have to find ways where the public has an assurance that there are checks and balances in place ... that their phone calls aren't being listened into; their text messages aren't being monitored, their emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere," the president said.

A senior administration official said Obama had asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to determine what more information about the two programs could be made public, to help better explain them. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

Snowden on Monday accused members of Congress and administration officials of exaggerating their claims about the success of the data gathering programs, including pointing to the arrest of the would-be New York subway bomber, Najibullah Zazi, in 2009.

In an online interview with The Guardian in which he posted answers to questions, he said Zazi could have been caught with narrower, targeted surveillance programs -- a point Obama conceded in his interview without mentioning Snowden.

"We might have caught him some other way," Obama said. "We might have disrupted it because a New York cop saw he was suspicious. Maybe he turned out to be incompetent and the bomb didn't go off. But, at the margins, we are increasing our chances of preventing a catastrophe like that through these programs," he said.

Obama repeated earlier assertions that the NSA programs were a legitimate counterterror tool and that they were completely noninvasive to people with no terror ties -- something he hoped to discuss with the privacy and civil liberties board he'd formed. The senior administration official said the president would be meeting with the new privacy board in the coming days.



Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

19 Comments

Filter by:
setanta54s_back

ooooooooooh yes DEFINITELY-
listen up
the whistlebLOwer announced this WHEN ? INTERNAL spying eavesdropping---INTERNAL as WITHIN THE USA---get it ? not incoming or outgoing to pakeestan etc but INTERNALLY-
and IT TALES THESE SPIN MASTERS THIS freeeeeeeeeekin long to concoct THIS ?

c;mon guys......

June 18 2013 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to setanta54s_back's comment
clarita995

they're out of stories--benghazee,irs etc has them exhausted--
why didn't they come up with this immediately ?
classified ? LOL !

June 18 2013 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
setanta54s_back

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.
Read the full letter to US Congress------------snip-----------------------

https://optin.stopwatching.us/


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 18 2013 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
setanta54s_back

It is transparent," Obama told PBS' Charlie Rose in an interview. "That's why we set up the FISA court," the president added, referring to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes two recently disclosed programs: one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

let's see now--obummer states "it IS transparent"
but
it has SECRET COURTS

yeah it's transparent TO THEM.

FF

June 18 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeffxst

This is why the NSA surveillance program is bad! They foiled the ONE bomb plot that most Americans would like to have occur - the BOMBING of Wall St!

June 18 2013 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jeffxst's comment
donut999

Hopefully your are kidding. Just because you may not own any equities does not mean most others do not. Some even without real knowledge if they have an IRA, 401B, etc. with mutual funds.

An attack could disrupt banking. How would you like no access to your funds for 3 to 10 days?

June 18 2013 at 3:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to donut999's comment
setanta54s_back

gonna happen ANYWAY just like chile,argentina,cyprus etc.
that's THEIR PLAN.

June 18 2013 at 8:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
en4j

and we're suppose to believe the foxes who are guarding the chicken coop, how pathetic, wouldn't be surprised if every one of these stories is a flat out lie, anything to justify snooping into our lives, would rather hear more stories on obamas upcoming trip that will cost the american taxpayers over 100 million dollars, forgot the liberal biased media doesn't talk about things like this if the person is a liberal

June 18 2013 at 2:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
presscrawler

I'm sorry, but I didn't see the boston bombing as "foiled" I'm not against the NSA either. I'm not against airport checks. But these things should be limited to those who are actually and really under suspicion. Treating the rest of us like criminals is wrong.

June 18 2013 at 2:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
gttdux

Here's a clue to what's going on. The intelligence "community" and the military are not Obama's people - most were promoted to "prominence" under Dubya - so clearly Darth Cheney is still running the whole damn group - be afraid, very afraid of the possibilities.

June 18 2013 at 1:53 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gttdux's comment
h.hughjardon

Which people are you talking about?

June 18 2013 at 3:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jmnardihrt

Well not for nothing but bombing the exchange would effect the economy like bombing the Statue of Liberty would - lour freedm. Both are symbolic . Little if any of the infrastructure of the actual "machine" that runs the economy is housed in the Exchange.

SO DUH !!!!!

Although it would be a great loss of life andthat would be horrific, it would not really do much technically to the ability to trade.

Sorry Obama, have to do more research before you come up with a story like that !

June 18 2013 at 1:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
buffetexposed

NSA stops plot to Bomb Wall Street WHO CARES - The world would be a better place without Wall Street - In other words the 1% protected the 1% by violating the rights of the 99%. It would be nice if the Sleeping Giant 99% would wake up and put the 1% back into check.

June 18 2013 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to buffetexposed's comment
h.hughjardon

Who is going to finance your welfare and SNAP then?

Idiot.

June 18 2013 at 3:09 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dajt666

sorry. you lied too many times to be taken seriously.

June 18 2013 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dajt666's comment
h.hughjardon

And yet you reelected him.

June 18 2013 at 12:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to h.hughjardon's comment