Testifying Tuesday on Capitol Hill before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of the National Security Agency General Keith Alexander claimed that the NSA program and keeping of millions of phone records has thwarted more 50 terror attacks since September 11, 2001 in more than 20 countries.
Alexander stressed the NSA program is focused on terrorism and foreign threats, but that Americans involved in terrorism are looked at. Deputy Attorney General James Cole reiterated this claim, saying that in order to listen or obtain content of phone calls or emails, there must be probable cause a person is involved in terrorist activities.
"We don't get any content, we don't listen in on anybody's calls," Cole said.
"The program is not intentionally used to target any U.S. citizens," Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce said. "The program is key in our counter terrorism efforts."
Joyce detailed some of the attacks that were stopped, including the plans of Afhgan-American Najibullah Zazi to bomb the New York subway system with backpack bombs. Zazi was arrested in 2009.