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NSA chief says exposure of surveillance programs has 'irreversible' impact as it happens | Guardian.co.uk


Hello and welcome to our live blog coverage of NSA director Keith Alexander's testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It's Alexander's second trip to the Hill in as many weeks. He testified before the Senate last Wednesday, in a hearing scheduled to cover cyber security that gave way to a discussion of the NSA's secret surveillance programs.


Today committee chairman Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, has convened a hearing specifically to talk about the NSA programs – and to defend them. The hearing is called: How Disclosed NSA Programs Protect Americans, and Why Disclosure Aids Our Adversaries.


Scheduled to testify alongside Alexander are senior officials from the attorney general's office, the FBI, and the office of the director of national intelligence.


Today's hearing will provide a public forum for Alexander and Rogers to make the case that the NSA programs have kept Americans safe. Both men have said that the programs could prevent a future 9/11-style attack. "You have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle to try to put it together," Rogers said on TV two weekends ago. "That's what we found went wrong in 9/11."


One interesting point we'll be watching for: Alexander and Rogers have had a significant public disagreement in the last two weeks that may be resolved at today's hearing. The subject of the disagreement is Najibullah Zazi's 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subway. Alexander and Rogers have given conflicting accounts of which NSA program was essential to Zazi's interdiction (while others have said it was British police work, not NSA surveillance, that cracked the case).


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