During Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing into the leaks regarding the National Security Agency’s monitoring of American electronic and telephonic communications, NSA Director Keith Alexander was asked to explain the process that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts go through before approving a request to access the content of those communications. Alexander said that the courts work with the NSA to make sure that they are not violating American civil rights and those courts do not “rubber stamp” surveillance requests.
“If I weren’t in this field and I were listening to the media accounts of what occurred in the beginning, I would be concerned, too,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). “This is very important that we get the message out to the American public that what we do is legal and we’re doing it to protect our national security from attacks from terrorists.”
He said that there has been misinformation disseminated regarding how surveillance requests are submitted to and approved by the FISA courts. Ruppersberger added that the federal judges who sit on those courts and review classified intelligence information have “integrity” and would not approve anything “that they feel is wrong.”
“Do you feel in any way that the FISA court is a rubber stamp based on the process?” Ruppersberger asked Alexander. “Our forefathers created a great system of government, and that’s checks and balances. And that’s what we are and that’s what we do in this country to follow our Constitution. It’s unfortunate that these federal judges are being attacked.”
Alexander agreed that the FISA court judges are “superb.”
He said that he has been impressed with the FISA court’s diligence, “every time we make a mistake, how they work with us to make sure it is done correctly – to protect our civil liberties and privacy and go through the court process.”
Watch the clip below via Bloomberg TV:
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