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Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Data Mining Halted Over 50 Terror Plots, NSA Chief Says

U.S. government monitoring of private communications has aided in thwarting more than 50 possible terror incidents since Sept. 11, 2001, the head of the National Security Agency told lawmakers on Tuesday.

No fewer than 10 of the plans were "homeland-based threats," the New York Times quoted NSA Director Keith Alexander as saying in testimony to the House intelligence committee. He said most of the cases had to stay classified for protection of operational details.

Obama administration officials addressed the panel to defend two recently exposed monitoring operations; one has gathered e-mail and telephone conversations involving foreign nationals outside the country, and the other has maintained a permanent collection of "metadata" from U.S. telephone contacts. Rationales for the programs went largely unchallenged by lawmakers, according to the Times.

Surveillance of communications by a Yemeni-based "extremist" enabled NSA officials to flag a Kansas City resident planning to destroy the New York Stock Exchange, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce said. Separately, metadata allowed authorities to track unusual telephone contacts by an individual in San Diego who intended to transmit funds to extremists in Somalia, according to the official.

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