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Senate Intelligence Committee Excerpts

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From February 2, 2006:

FEINGOLD: Mr. Ambassador, without getting into what the specific programs might be, can you assure us today that there are not other intelligence collection — and I emphasize collection — programs that you are aware of and that you are keeping from the full intelligence committee?

NEGROPONTE: Um”¦ Senator, I “¦ I don’t know if I can comment on that in an open session.

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SEN. CARL LEVIN: Can you give us an estimate as to the number of such communications which were tracked by NSA last year?

CHAIRMAN PAT ROBERTS: Can’t do that.

HAYDEN: I’d be very uncomfortable doing it in open session, and I don’t actually know that number.

ROBERTS: I think that’s a question, with all due respect, being the one of [inaudible] that have been briefed, it would be better answered in closed session.

LEVIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, the President has said in very open session, “the NSA program is one that listens to a few numbers.” That’s what the President said. Now we want to check on that.

ROBERTS: It’s highly minimized, I would tell the senator.

LEVIN: Excuse me, I’d rather use these minutes, if I could, with our witnesses here.

ROBERTS: I will grant you as much time as possible. I’m just trying to be helpful, and in terms of a clarification —

LEVIN: Thank you. I would really prefer that the witnesses try to clarify this. The President of the United States -

ROBERTS: Then I won’t be helpful.

LEVIN: May I continue, Mr. Chairman?

ROBERTS: Certainly.

LEVIN: [Homeland Security] Secretary [Michael] Chertoff says if you’re “culling through literally thousands of phone numbers” you wind up with a huge problem managing the amount of paper. Why is it alright for Secretary Chertoff to talk about “thousands of phone numbers,” but you can’t give us or won’t give us in open session an estimate of the number of those communications.

HAYDEN: Senator, as I said, I’d be uncomfortable doing it in open session, and I don’t know the precise numbers.

LEVIN: I’m not saying precise numbers, I asked for an estimate.

HAYDEN: I cannot give you an estimate of the number of communications intercepted.

LEVIN: Is it a few or is it thousands?

HAYDEN: Sir, I’d be very uncomfortable talking about in open session.

LEVIN: Do you know?

HAYDEN: I can’t give you a precise””

LEVIN: I didn’t ask for a precise one, General. You keep saying precise and I keep saying an estimate. General Maples, do you know? Do you have an estimate?

MAPLES: I do not .

LEVIN: Do you know, Ambassador Negroponte? Do you have an estimate of the number of those communications?

NEGROPONTE: No, sir, I do not.

LEVIN: Alright. Now, do you have an estimate as to the number of persons who are members of al Qaeda, or agents of al Qaeda, or are members of affiliated organizations to al Qaeda, or their agents — because that’s the test — whose communications have been intercepted, say, in the last year? Do you have an estimate of a number of persons?

HAYDEN: Yes, sir, I do know that number, but I’m unable to give it in this kind of an environment, sir.

LEVIN: Alright. Will you give us to that in closed session?

HAYDEN: Sir, that’s part of the briefing that I’ve given to the chairman and vice chairman on multiple occasions.

LEVIN: Will you give us that number in closed session, the rest of us that are on the intelligence committee?

HAYDEN: Sir, I’m not at liberty to do that.

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WYDEN: Mr. Director, is it correct that when John Poindexter’s program, Operation Total Information Awareness, was closed, that several of Mr. Poindexter’s projects were moved to various intelligence agencies?

NEGROPONTE: I don’t know the answer to that question.

WYDEN: Do any of the other panel members know? The press has reported intelligence officials saying that those programs run by Mr. Poindexter — I and others on this panel led the effort to close it. We want to know if Mr. Poindexter’s programs are going on somewhere else. Can anyone answer that? Mr. Mueller?

MUELLER: I have no knowledge of that, sir.

WYDEN: Any other panel members?

HAYDEN: Senator, I’d like to answer in closed session.

WYDEN: Alright, I will be asking that question in closed session.