The Director of National Intelligence defended the Obama administration from reports that the National Security Agency mined data from major Internet companies, releasing a statement saying it is necessary for national security interests and does not target U.S. citizens.
James Clapper said that the intelligence collected in the program is “among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect.” He was responding to reports in The Guardian and The Washington Post detailing the program, which until now had been secret.
The program, dubbed “PRISM,” was revealed by a whistleblower who was reportedly “horrified” at its capabilities.
Here’s Clapper’s full statement:
The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.
Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.
Activities authorised by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.
Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.
Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
The unauthorised disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.
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