During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, members of Congress asked heads from the National Security Agency, Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to provide more information about the surveillance programs exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year.
General Keith Alexander, who is head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress that there was no “upper limit” as to how many telephone records the U.S. government wants to collect, reports The Guardian.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asked Gen. Alexander if the NSA's goal was to collect the phone records of all Americans
Gen. Alexander replied, "I believe it is in the nation's best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox, yes."
Back in May, Gen. Alexander laughed off the suggestion that the NSA was even spying on Americans, reported Reuters:
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According to Alexander, the NSA has its hands full keeping tabs on potential terrorists, and does not have the bandwidth to read the 420 billion emails generated by Americans each day - even though some foreign governments were trying to do that. "The great irony is we're the only ones not spying on the American people," he quipped.
During the yesterday's hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Gen. Alexander if the NSA collected information from cell phone towers that could be used to locate customers.
But Gen. Alexander refused to confirm or deny this practice.
“If you're responding to my question by not answering it because you think thats a classified matter, that is certainly your right. We will continue to explore that because I believe that is something the American people deserve to know,” Sen. Wyden shot back.