Clapper Declassifies More NSA Documents

Saturday, 18 Jan 2014 03:56 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has released more once-secret national security documents, concerning the origins of the National Security Agency's bulk telephone data collection program.

The documents were released just hours after President Barack Obama outlined changes to national surveillance practices, reports The Washington Examiner.

Clapper said he took the action in response to Obama's directive to declassify as much information that was possible.

In a statement on the DNI website, Clapper said that the disclosures bring a total of approximately 2,300 released by the U.S. government since Obama first directed his office to be more forthcoming with information.

Obama's Friday order came in response to the growing anger among Americans and the international community after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began disclosing details of the extent of the nation's surveillance programs.

On Friday, Obama said the NSA will need the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to search gathered phone data, unlike the current system, in which NSA analysts had ready access to phone records.

Clapper's latest declassification includes 400 pages of documents showing how the data collection was first authorized by former President George W. Bush.

"These documents were properly classified, and their declassification was not done lightly," Clapper said in his statement.

"Their releases reflect the executive branch's continued commitment to make information about the implementation of [intelligence laws allowing bulk collection of emails and phone data] publicly available when appropriate, while ensuring the protection of the national security of the United States."

Some of the information in the documents released Friday has been redacted, Clapper said, "because these documents include discussion of matters that must remain classified so as to protect national security."

One document, dated Aut. 18, 2006, tells in detail how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved a request for "all call-detail" records from former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Another document, approving the metadata collection program, says the request included data from "comprehensive routing information, including but not limited to session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number, communications device identifier, etc.), trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call.”

It also specifies that the data will not include “substantive content of any communication” or the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer.

The document also calls for the NSA's director to establish mandatory rules for strict control of stored data, detailing safeguards and limits, while calling for data to be destroyed after five years.

The other documents released Friday include renewals, supplements, or amendments to the original FBI request, approved every few months from 2006 through 2011.

Another order, dated April 13, 2011, said the secret court ordered the NSA to submit a report every 30 days about information to purge credit card information obtained while metadata was being collected.

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