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US spy chief to share secrets with senate

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander speaking at a hearing yesterday.

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander speaking at a hearing yesterday.

WASHINGTON — America’s electronic spying chief has promised to give the entire US Senate a rare classified briefing later about dozens of terror plots he says were thwarted by secret surveillance.

Yesterday, National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander defended the programmes revealed by a former intelligence worker, Edward Snowden.

He said the US was less safe as a result of Snowden’s actions.

China says it has “no information to offer” on Snowden’s whereabouts.

The leaker, who has pledged to fight any attempt to extradite him to the US, fled his home in Hawaii for Hong Kong shortly before reports of the top secret programmes were published by the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers last week.

The 29-year-old former CIA and NSA contract worker has admitted giving the newspapers information about NSA programmes that seize vast quantities of data from US Internet and telephone companies.

US officials have confirmed the programmes exist, with President Barack Obama saying they were closely overseen by Congress and the courts.

In the unusual classified briefing for all senators later, Alexander is set to describe successful eavesdropping operations that he will say prevented “dozens of terrorist events” both in the US and overseas.

In his first public questioning since last week’s revelations, the NSA chief told the Senate Intelligence Committee that intelligence officials were “trying to be transparent” about the programmes and would brief the committee behind closed doors before any other information became public.

But some details would remain classified “because if we tell the terrorists every way that we’re going to track them, they will get through and Americans will die”, he added.

Alexander rejected Snowden’s claim that while working for the NSA he could wiretap any American, including the president, from his laptop. (BBC)

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