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Officials: NSA programs broke plots in 20 nations

By Kimberly Dozier

AP Intelligence Writer

LAST UPDATED: 01:55 a.m. HST, Jun 16, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Top U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday that information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.

Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs, the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.

No other new details about the plots or the countries involved were part of the newly declassified information released to Congress on Saturday and made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Intelligence officials said they are working to declassify the dozens of plots NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said were disrupted, to show Americans the value of the programs, but that they want to make sure they don't inadvertently reveal parts of the U.S. counterterrorism playbook in the process.

The release of information follows a bruising week for U.S. intelligence officials who testified on Capitol Hill, defending programs that were unknown to the public — and some lawmakers — until they were revealed by a series of media stories in The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers, leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who remains in hiding in Hong Kong.

The disclosures have sparked debate and legal action against the Obama administration by privacy activists who say the data collection goes far beyond what was intended when expanded counterterrorism measures were authorized by Congress after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Intelligence officials said Saturday that both NSA programs are reviewed every 90 days by the secret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under the program, the records, showing things like time and length of call, can only be examined for suspected connections to terrorism, they said.

The officials offered more detail on how the phone records program helped the NSA stop a 2009 al-Qaida plot to blow up New York City subways. They say the program helped them track a co-conspirator of al-Qaida operative Najibullah Zazi — though it's not clear why the FBI needed the NSA to investigate Zazi's phone records because the FBI would have had the authority to gather records of Zazi's phone calls after identifying him as a suspect, rather than relying on the sweeping collection program.

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bluebowl wrote:
Do you believe that?
on June 15,2013 | 02:22PM
cojef wrote:
About as far as I could throw him, and I am an ole man.
on June 15,2013 | 02:41PM
Manoa2 wrote:
I believe it. I think Obama discovered that maybe Bush was right and he was wrong about the value of Guantanamo and these "secret" programs. Neither of which he has stopped-- continuing them full speed.
on June 16,2013 | 06:06AM
kennysmith wrote:
no i don't think NSA will come out with the truth but i will bet we the people will make sure that we will make real sure that we will let our next president and other member of both house will not be in there office in 2016. no more.....
on June 16,2013 | 10:57AM
pcman wrote:
Having been in the military for 20 years and in DOD civil service for 25 years, I can say thus is about all they can say. But you can connect the dots on why and how other countries are notified about persons of interest to their country, By the same token, they notify us, like the Russians did on the Tsarneas guy *Boston bomber). The FBI failed to connect the dots to stop him from doing the job, The military is not legally allowed to track and collect information on "US persons" which include American citizens, legal immigrants with green cards, and people who work for American companies overseas.
on June 15,2013 | 04:55PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Yeah, 20 nations, That's the ticket. 20 nations. My wife, Kate Upton and I know this true. Yeah, that's the ticket.
on June 15,2013 | 05:08PM
Mythman wrote:
I heard a rumor Kate was marrying a local boy - you lucky dog....
on June 15,2013 | 06:09PM
bluebowl wrote:
Actually and factually lucky cat.
on June 15,2013 | 07:03PM
kennysmith wrote:
i just hope you people are going to be smart next time around i hope?. i am geting tired of this now, as a short term in the army of 10months and i got kick out for trying to do what was right. i got this to this date AR 635-212 SPN 264. it is still on my new DD214.
on June 16,2013 | 11:02AM
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