• The leaders of America’s intelligence services said the loss of surveillance capabilities could lead to a “catastrophic” 9/11-like attack on the United States. DNI James Clapper and NSA director Keith Alexander testified as new legislation was introduced in Congress with substantial bipartisan support to limit NSA surveillance capabilities.
• The intelligence officials agreed in principle to the declassification of some Fisa court opinions, as a gesture of transparency. The length of time the NSA stores American’s phonemetadata might be reduced to three years from five. And the creation of a permanent advocate role on the court was deemed possible although the justice department witness opposed it.
• Clapper did not deny that the US conducts surveillance on foreign leaders. A debate broke out on the committee over whether committee members had been informed of the practice.
• Alexander said reports that NSA collects tens of millions of phone calls in France are “completely false.” He didn’t talk aboutmetadata collection performed by NSA. He said the reports have mistaken data “provided to NSA by foreign partners” for data NSA collects.
• The conversation was restricted to two intelligence programs that so far have garnered a lion’s share of media coverage: phonemetadata collection and the surveillance of foreign Internet users. Both programs are subject to Fisa court approval. Critics warn that both programs sweep up substantial intelligence about Americans in a way that relies on tendentious interpretations of the law.
• White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president had already made some changes to US spy practices even as a review of those practices continues. Multiple anonymous White House officials said the president had ended spying on friendly leaders. Carney would not comment on those reports. – The Guardian
Read the rest of the updates here. or download or view this PDF of article PDF Summary of Congressional Hearing – NSA Intelligence Officials October 29, 2013.
In video: Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky calls out NSA head for implying that NSA opponents aren’t Patriots during congressional hearing.