The head of the National Security Agency defended his beleaguered organization, saying it acts within the law to stop militant attacks and calling reports that the NSA collected data on millions of phone calls in Europe false.
The intelligence chiefs appeared against a backdrop of angry accusations by European allies that the United States spies on their leaders and citizens, accusations prompted by highly classified documents that Snowden leaked to media organizations.
Army General Keith Alexander, testifying with other U.S. spy chiefs before the House of Representatives Intelligence committee, sought to defuse a growing controversy over reports of NSA snooping on citizens and leaders of major U.S. allies.
The hearing took place as Congress is weighing new legislative proposals that could limit some of the NSA’s more expansive electronic intelligence collection programs.
More than any previous disclosures from the Snowden documents, the reports of spying on close U.S. allies have forced the White House to promise reforms and even acknowledge that America’s electronic surveillance may have gone too far.
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