NSA Director General Keith Alexander (shown), testifying along with officials from the Justice Department in a rare public oversight hearing by the House Intelligence Committee, claimed that more than 50 terror plots had been discovered and prevented thanks to the highly classified data collections.
But a jury conviction cited in a deputy attorney general's claim about a terrorist plot never occurred, and at least two other cases he cited appear not to support the claim that they were solved through the National Security Agency's massive collection of telephone records and Internet communications
Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee, "In the 12 years since the attacks on Sept. 11, we have lived in relative safety and security as a nation. That security is a direct result of the intelligence community's quiet efforts to better connect the dots and learn from the mistakes that permitted those attacks to occur on 9/11."
Deputy Attorney General Sean Joyce cited four recently declassified cases as examples of how the system worked to apprehend terrorists. In one case, Joyce said, the NSA discovered a terrorist in Yemen was talking to a man in Kansas City, Missouri, named Khalid Ouazzani. With a warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, agents were then able to search Ouazzani's electronic communications. They discovered that he and two other conspirators were "in the very initial stages" of a plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange, Joyce said.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) wanted to know if it was a serious plot Joyce was describing or merely "something that they kind of dreamed about."
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Photo of NSA Director General Keith Alexander: AP Images