3. NSA: Surveillance thwarts attacks on NYSE, subway
The director of the US National Security Agency has stressed that his agency's secret surveillance programs have helped prevent more than 50 possible terrorist attacks in at least 20 countries.
NSA chief General Keith Alexander attended a hearing at the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. He said at least 10 of the thwarted terrorist plots targeted the United States. These include a 2009 plan to bomb the New York subway system, and a separate plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange the same year.
Alexander stressed that the surveillance program gives due consideration to people's privacy. He said users cannot be identified from telephone records, and only e-mails of non-US citizens with suspected links to terrorist groups are collected.
Meanwhile a recent poll by USA Today and the Pew Research Center has found that US citizens have mixed feelings on the surveillance program.
The telephone survey from Wednesday to Sunday covered more than 1,500 adults.
Asked if they approve of the surveillance program as part of the effort to fight terrorism, 48 percent of the respondents said yes, while 47 percent said no. But a 53 percent majority said the program serves to foil terrorist attacks, while 41 percent said it doesn't.
On Edward Snowden, the former CIA agent who leaked the spying operations, 54 percent said he should be prosecuted. But the respondents had mixed feelings on whether the leak serves public interest. 49 percent said it does, while 44 said it harms public interest.