NSA Director Keith Alexander

The head of the National Security Agency General Keith Alexander will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee today at 2 pm EST. The hearing was scheduled prior to the bombshell revelations published by the Guardian of NSA spying programs targeting American citizens.

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, will testify before the full committee in a previously-scheduled session, marking the first time an NSA official will answer to Congress in public since news broke that the agency is collecting all of Verizon’s U.S. phone records, as well as internet content from non-U.S. internet users abroad.

In addition to Alexander, others testifying include Rand Beers, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary; Patrick Gallagher, acting deputy Commerce Secretary and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI’s criminal, cyber, response, and services branch.

Meanwhile, the FBI has also been expanding its use of the Patriot Act to collect information on American citizens. The Surveillance State is expanding all over.

The FBI has dramatically increased its use of a controversial provision of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain a vast store of business records of U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama, according to recent Justice Department reports to Congress. The bureau filed 212 requests for such data to a national security court last year – a 1,000-percent increase from the number of such requests four years earlier, the reports show.

The FBI’s increased use of the Patriot Act’s “business records” provision — and the wide ranging scope of its requests — is getting new scrutiny in light of last week’s disclosure that that the provision was used to obtain a top-secret national security order requiring telecommunications companies to turn over records of millions of telephone calls.

This is also more evidence that the FISA court is a joke and is a rubber stamp for anything the executive branch wants – no check on power whatsoever. A point the ACLU will likely make in its lawsuit. The constitutional checks on power have completely collapsed.

The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing will be broadcast live on CSPAN-3. Hopefully General Alexander will not follow General Clapper’s lead and mislead Congress.