General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), commander of the US Cyber Command and chief of the Central Security Service testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the agency's PRISM program, which tracks web traffic and US citizens' phone records, during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 12, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- The director of the National Security Agency says surveillance programs have disrupted or helped disrupt dozens of terrorist attacks.
NSA director Keith Alexander defended the programs at a Senate hearing on Wednesday and also called claims that the spy agency can tap into any Americans' phone calls or emails "false."
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont says some details of two cases have been declassified. He pressed Alexander for numbers on other incidents.
Leahy says the intelligence community believes that these surveillance programs are critical, but he adds that he thinks they should not be made permanent and that Congress should be able to review and debate them periodically.
A former contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked information on the programs last week.
Alexander told Congress that Snowden's claim that he could tap into any phone call or email is "false."
"I saw an interview in which Mr. Snowden claimed that due to his position at NSA he could tap into virtually any American's phone call or e-mails," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pressed. "True or false?"
"False. I know of no way to do that," the NSA chief replied.
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