By Alex Zank
Intelligence officials defended NSA surveillance during a House committee hearing on Tuesday. NSA employees "have taken an oath to defend this nation and protect our privacy," NSA director Keith Alexander said. "It’s a privilege and an honor to work next to them every day.”
In a discussion similar to one conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee in September, Alexander, along with director of intelligence James Clapper and deputy attorney general James Cole and others, testified before the House permanent select subcommittee on intelligence.
Several protesters holding signs and wearing large sunglasses, representing what they considered the NSA’s intrusive surveillance methods, were escorted out of the room.
This comes only days after a rally was held on the National Mall, where thousands of people demanded an investigation and reform of the NSA. These events are all centered around the leaking of information earlier this year by NSA contractor Edward Snowden that revealed the intelligence organization was gathering phone record information of U.S. citizens. Snowden is in Russia, evading U.S. prosecution.
The NSA took even more heat recently amid the contention the U.S. had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for at least a decade. Clapper, answering questions regarding espionage activities on U.S. allies, said it’s expected that intelligence agencies in any nation will spy on other nations.
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