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By John WhitesidesSusan Cornwell. Senate committee.

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Alexander said the disclosures, which have sparked a criminal investigation and an internal Obama administration review of the potential national security damage, had jeopardized safety in the United States and elsewhere. Forty-six percent said they did not know. Snowden, who traveled to China-ruled Hong Kong before the program was made public, said in an interview published on Wednesday that he planned to stay in the former British colony and fight any effort to bring him back to the United States for criminal proceedings.

Related Coverage. Hong Kong, which has a degree of autonomy from Beijing, has an extradition agreement with the United States that has been exercised on numerous occasions. But Snowden has not been publicly charged so far and the United States has not filed for his extradition. Snowden, who had been working at an NSA facility as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, has drawn a mix of condemnation and praise for the revelations.

The controversy over the program has renewed the debate about the balance between privacy rights and security concerns in the United States in the aftermath of the September 11,attacks. Alexander said the NSA operated with that balance in mind.

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He denied the agency was doing anything wrong or harming civil liberties, but said the agency was struggling to offer details without revealing classified information. Alexander promised to make details of the thwarted attacks available to the public within the next week.

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Officials said last week the surveillance program played a role in foiling a Islamist militant plot to bomb the New York City subway system. Some members of Congress and advocacy groups have pushed for tighter controls on the surveillance, which is subject to authorization by secret court orders.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked on Wednesday for a probe of the programs by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created after the September 11 attacks to oversee issues involving civil liberties.

Alexander said the agency would cooperate with any board investigation. Senators at the hearing wondered why Snowden, who had a spotty educational record and a relative lack of experience in the national security field, was able to gain a top-secret clearance and access to such sensitive information. He had Woman want nsa De Queen skills in this area. Little is known about Snowden, who did not leave much of a digital trail on the Internet and was not active under his own name on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Snowden said in his interview that the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and mainland China sincewith targets including public officials, businesses and students in the city as well as the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He counted more than 61, computer hacking operations globally, including hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China, the newspaper said. Snowden said he believed the United States was putting pressure on the Hong Kong government to extradite him.

The year-old said he had not contacted his family or his girlfriend since he revealed himself as the source of the leaks earlier this week. APAC Updated. Factbox: Nine cases of Americans indicted for media leaks.

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Under fire, U.S. spy agency defends surveillance programs as lawful