A key National Security Agency official will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, will testify before the full committee in a previously-scheduled session, marking the first time an NSA official will answer to Congress in public since news broke that the agency is collecting all of Verizon's U.S. phone records, as well as internet content from non-U.S. internet users abroad.Meanwhile, the ACLU is the first major group to file a lawsuit over the secret monitoring.
In addition to Alexander, others testifying include Rand Beers, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary; Patrick Gallagher, acting deputy Commerce Secretary and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI's criminal, cyber, response, and services branch.
Intelligence officials have been holding closed-door briefings with members of Congress this week, getting them up to speed on the NSA's sweeping surveillance methods. After a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Wednesday, vice chairman of the committee Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., called Alexander "very straightforward," adding he "always let's us know what's happening."
In the wake of the past week's revelations about the NSA's unprecedented mass surveillance of phone calls, today the ACLU filed a lawsuit charging that the program violates Americans' constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy.
This lawsuit comes a day after we submitted a motion to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) seeking the release of secret court opinions on the Patriot Act's Section 215, which has been interpreted to authorize this warrantless and suspicionless collection of phone records.