While Clapper, Alexander, and other intelligence officials faced a largely friendly panel of lawmakers Tuesday, Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, suggested that Alexander was misreading the criticism of the surveillance programs. While Alexander stressed that NSA employees are "patriots," she said that no one has suggested that they aren't.
"People have questioned the policies of the NSA ... and they have been carried out by patriots," she said.
The NSA's surveillance of foreign leaders was kept from the congressional intelligence committees, Schakowsky said. U.S. diplomatic relations have suffered because of those spying efforts, she added.
"There will be changes" to the NSA programs, she told Clapper and Alexander. "What I heard from you was a robust defense, effectively, of the status quo."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is email@example.com.