Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was wrong when he claimed he had the ability to tap into the private emails or phone calls of any American citizen — even President Barack Obama.
“False,” Alexander said, when answering a question from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) about Snowden’s claim. “I know of no way to do that.”
Snowden made the claim in an interview with The Guardian published Sunday.
“I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president, if I had a personal email,” Snowden said.
Alexander signaled that he was troubled at Snowden’s overall access, which produced a slew of leaks over the past week detailing information about the NSA’s surveillance programs.
Alexander also said during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee that the NSA’s phone surveillance program has helped prevent or disrupt “dozens” of terror events.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.