By Julian Hattem - 05/16/14 06:14 PM EDT
The chances that a terrorist will try to target the United States are growing increasingly high, according to the former head of the National Security Agency.
“The probability is growing,” Gen. Keith Alexander told The New Yorker in an interview.
“What I saw at NSA is that there is a lot more coming our way, just as someone is revealing all the tools and the capabilities we have,” he added, referring to leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden.
“What that tells me is we’re at greater risk,” warned Alexander.
The magazine interview comes days before lawmakers in the House move forward with a plan to effectively end a controversial NSA program.
Under the USA Freedom Act, which could come up for a vote on the House floor as soon as next week, the agency would no longer collect records about people’s phone calls and store them for five years. Instead, they would stay in the hands of private phone companies and NSA agents would need a court order before being able to search them.
The White House has supported transferring the records out of the NSA’s hands, but Alexander seemed reluctant.
“Now Congress is saying they’re not sure they understood it. Okay, so go back and debate it,” he said. “And then, if something bad happens, then my comment would be: ‘Okay, you took away that tool. But if there’s a terrorist attack, know that you made our job harder.’”
Alexander, who was the NSA’s longest-serving director before stepping down earlier this year, has been a vocal critic of Snowden, whose leaks he has said made it easier for terrorists to evade detection.