Updated 7:05 p.m.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is asking the director of the National Security Agency to declassify some pieces of information in order to better explain how the agency uses telephone and Internet intercept programs revealed in recent news reports to thwart terrorist attacks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the intelligence panel, said Tuesday that she asked Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who leads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, to declassify the information "so that we can talk about them, because I think they're really helpful."

Feinstein noted in an exchange with reporters that she has already publicly discussed two incidents where the NSA programs helped stop attacks -- in 2009 in New York and Mumbai.