Listening in. National Security Agency director Gen. Keith B. Alexander "told Congress on Wednesday that 'dozens' of terrorism threats had been halted by the agency’s huge database of the logs of nearly every domestic phone call made by Americans, while a senator briefed on the program disclosed that the telephone records are destroyed after five years," the New York Times reports. Alexander "told skeptical members of the Senate Appropriations Committee that his agency was doing exactly what Congress authorized after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," and "said he welcomed debate over the legal justification for the program because 'what we’re doing to protect American citizens here is the right thing.'”
Presidential heavyweights. "The 2016 presidential campaign takes center stage" in Chicago "Thursday with two of the top potential contenders -- Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie -- sharing co-billing at the high-profile Clinton Global Initiative 'America Meeting,'" NBC News reports. "No two figures will stand apart more from the business luminaries, government officials and nonprofit leaders gathered in Chicago than" Christie and Clinton. "Their joint presence at the meeting marks the first opportunity for a head-to-head comparison of the two for a campaign that remains years away but effectively has already begun."
Helping hand? "Two weeks before Election Day, Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez is finally getting some help," the AP reports. "A pro-Republican group created by the treasurer for former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says it is making 'a significant ad buy' in the special election" against Democratic Rep. Ed Markey. "Officials who track political advertising say the television ads, about $700,000 worth, are set to begin running on Friday." For more on President Obama's visit to Massachusetts on Wednesday to help out Markey, check out NBC's First Read.