WASHINGTON — The head of the National Security Agency sidestepped questions from a senator Thursday about whether the NSA has ever used Americans' cellphone signals to collect information on their whereabouts that would allow tracking of the movements of individual callers.
Asked twice by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., if NSA had ever collected or made plans to collect such data, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander answered both times by reading from a letter provided to senators who had asked the same question last summer. Wyden promised to keep asking.
The testy exchange at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing illustrates the wider tension that has grown between the public and the U.S. intelligence community, following disclosures about the extensive NSA collection of telephone and email records of millions of Americans.
The panel's bipartisan leadership used the hearing to promote their version of legislation to change the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act.