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NSA chief says Snowden leaked up to 200,000 classified documents

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Oct. 2, 2013: National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has leaked as many as 200,000 classified documents to reporters, according to NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander.

Alexander made the estimate in an address to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs Oct. 31. In the transcript of his speech, made available Thursday, Alexander, also said the leaks increased the probability of a terrorist attack.

“Snowden has shared somewhere between 50(,000) and 200,000 documents with reporters,” Alexander said. “Those will continue to come out. They're being put out in a way that does the maximum damage to NSA and our nation… And it's hurting our industry. I think it's wrong. I don't know how to stop it.”

Alexander said it is “very hard” for the NSA to prevent such leaks.

“But I'll tell you, this increases the probability that a terrorist attack will get through,” he said. “I think it's absolutely wrong. When we look back on this, people are going to see that and understand that and say what they did was wrong. Until then, we're at their mercy. They're putting them out, one or two a week, to cause the maximum problem. They get it wrong.”

Alexander also addressed the controversial report that the NSA had gained access to the phone records of over 70 million French citizens over a 30-day period, a report that was based on Snowden-leaked documents.

Alexander said the collection was aimed at gathering data to support NATO-related activities, claiming “none of that information was collected in France, on French people or European citizens.”

“Yet the uproar in Europe over this is huge,” he said. “And it's interesting. It's almost like ‘the War of the Worlds.’”