'This Week' Transcript: NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the statement that Hong Kong put out this morning, explaining why they allowed Snowden to leave, they also say they've written to the United States government requesting clarification on the reports, based on Snowden's information, that the United States government attacked (ph) computer systems in Hong Kong.

He said that the NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cell phone companies to steal all of your SMS data.

Is that true?

ALEXANDER: Well, we have interest in those who collect on us as an intelligence agency. But to say that we're willfully just collecting all sorts of data would give you the impression that we're just trying to canvas the whole world.

The fact is what we're trying to do is get the information our nation needs, the foreign intelligence, that primary mission, in this case and the case that Snowden has brought up is in defending this nation from a terrorist attack.

Now we have other intelligence interests just like other nations do. That's what you'd expect us to do. We do that right. Our main interest: who's collecting on us? And I'd just say let's look back at where that source comes from.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that was the government of Hong Kong putting out that statement.

Are you confident that we have not broken the laws of Hong Kong?

ALEXANDER: I'm confident that we're following the laws that our country has in doing what we do. We have a set of laws that guide how NSA acts; we follow those laws. We have tremendous oversight by all three portions of the government: the courts, Congress and the administration.

Now when you look at these laws and the way they've been passed and the oversight mechanisms that we have, I am confident that we are following our laws.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The final point that Pierre made, the question about some government officials are asking whether WikiLeaks is a legitimate journalistic organization or an enemy of the state, where do you come down on that?

ALEXANDER: I have no opinion on WikiLeaks. I really don't track them. I don't know -- I really don't know who WikiLeaks are, other than this Assange person. My job, again, defend the nation. So --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move onto that, then, because --

ALEXANDER: -- speculation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you just said that, as you testified to Congress this week, that the government programs have helped prevent 50 terrorists' attacks.

Senators Wyden and Udall from the Intelligence Committee responded to that assertion this week. They acknowledged that the PRISM program had been quite effective. But they went on to say this:

"However it appears that the bulk phone records collection program under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act played little or no role in most of these disruptions, in fact, we have yet to see any evidence that the bulk phone records collection program has provided any otherwise unobtainable intelligence."

Can you provide that evidence?

ALEXANDER: Yes, and I think we did.

Now here's the facts: I think what they put on the table, if you look at it just across the board, across these 50, the business record FISA is only going to focus on those that had a nexus in the United States.

And that's a little over 10. So when you look at it, the scope that the business record FISA can deal with is those that are just over 10.

And in those, I think it contributed in the majority of cases. It allowed us to form some of the dots. And I think that's key in what we're trying to do.

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