Obama Administration Declassifies Details On “PRISM,” Blasts “Reckless” Media And Leakers

Following near-simultaneous reports from the Guardian and the Washington Post this week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that contrary to press reports, "PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program."

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 12, 2013

Facing a firestorm from liberals and conservatives over controversial counterterrorism surveillance programs, the Obama administration moved Saturday to declassify some details about a program to monitor foreign Internet traffic.

Following near-simultaneous reports from the Guardian and the Washington Post this week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that contrary to press reports, “PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.” He maintained that the government computer system is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and is overseen by all three branches of the federal government. He said that the program does not target US citizens or anyone known to be in the United States, and pushed back on reports that the government has continuous access to Internet companies’ systems.

“Service providers supply information to the Government when they are lawfully required to do so,” he said.

(MOREPRISM of Interest: How TV Drama Anticipated the Data-Mining News)

The disclosure followed on a release Thursday of details about the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone “metadata” of all calls made in the United States.

In both instances, Clapper fiercely defended the programs, in the case of the Internet surveillance saying the program has “proven vital to keeping the nation and our allies safe.”

“It continues to be one of our most important tools for the protection of the nation’s security,” he added.

Clapper also lashed out at both the Guardian and the Washington Post, calling the disclosure of classified information “reckless.”

“There are significant misimpressions that have resulted from the recent articles,” he added. “Not all the inaccuracies can be corrected without further revealing classified information. I have, however, declassified for release the attached details about the recent unauthorized disclosures in hope that it will help dispel some of the myths and add necessary context to what has been published.”

(MOREPRISM by the Numbers: A Guide to the Government’s Secret Internet Data-Mining Program)

The Director of National Intelligence’s fact sheet on the Internet surveillance:

Facts on the Collection of Intelligence Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

·    PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program.  It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).  This authority was created by the Congress and has been widely known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008.

·    Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers.  All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. In short, Section 702 facilitates the targeted acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight.  Service providers supply information to the Government when they are lawfully required to do so.

·    The Government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for Section 702 collection unless there is an appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States.

We cannot target even foreign persons overseas without a valid foreign intelligence purpose.

·    In addition, Section 702 cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, or any other U.S. person, or to intentionally target any person known to be in the United States.  Likewise, Section 702 cannot be used to target a person outside the United States if the purpose is to acquire information from a person inside the United States.

·    Finally, the notion that Section 702 activities are not subject to internal and external oversight is similarly incorrect.  Collection of intelligence information under Section 702 is subject to an extensive oversight regime, incorporating reviews by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.

·    The Courts. All FISA collection, including collection under Section 702, is overseen and monitored by the FISA Court, a specially established Federal court comprised of 11 Federal judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States.

o The FISC must approve targeting and minimization procedures under Section 702 prior to the acquisition of any surveillance information.

§    Targeting procedures are designed to ensure that an acquisition targets non- U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States for specific purposes, and also that it does not intentionally acquire a communication when all the parties are known to be inside the US.

§    Minimization procedures govern how the Intelligence Community (IC) treats the information concerning any U.S. persons whose communications might be incidentally intercepted and regulate the handling of any nonpublic information concerning U.S. persons that is acquired, including whether

information concerning a U.S. person can be disseminated.  Significantly, the dissemination of information about U.S. persons is expressly prohibited unless it is necessary to understand foreign intelligence or assess its importance, is evidence of a crime, or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm.

·    The Congress. After extensive public debate, the Congress reauthorized Section 702 in

December 2012.

o The law specifically requires a variety of reports about Section 702 to the Congress.

§    The DNI and AG provide exhaustive semiannual reports assessing compliance with the targeting and minimization procedures.

§     These reports, along with FISA Court opinions, and a semi-annual report by the Attorney General are provided to Congress.   In short, the information provided to Congress by the Executive Branch with respect to these activities provides an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.

o In addition, the Congressional Intelligence and Judiciary Committees are regularly briefed on the operation of Section 702.

·    The Executive.  The Executive Branch, including through its independent Inspectors General, carries out extensive oversight of the use of Section 702 authorities, which includes regular on-site reviews of how Section 702 authorities are being implemented.  These regular reviews are documented in reports produced to Congress.  Targeting decisions are reviewed by ODNI and DOJ.

o Communications collected under Section 702 have provided the Intelligence Community insight into terrorist networks and plans.  For example, the Intelligence Community acquired information on a terrorist organization’s strategic planning efforts.

o Communications collected under Section 702 have yielded intelligence regarding proliferation networks and have directly and significantly contributed to successful operations to impede the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies.

o Communications collected under Section 702 have provided significant and unique intelligence regarding potential cyber threats to the United States including specific potential computer network attacks.  This insight has led to successful efforts to mitigate these threats.

MORE: PRISM Speculation and The Lord of the Rings: The ‘Palantir’ Connection

360 comments
Jeremiah_42
Jeremiah_42

No, I pointed out that not only Republicans voted for it, but also Dems.  " GOP congress...fight to the death to keep it...".  As an " intellectual you might question a statement you did not comprehend.  Yes I must be an "idiot" to expect context for my remark.. Perhaps you will share your evidence?  Remember the President could have vetoed it.  I have already read the rationalization for why he did not.

Jeremiah_42
Jeremiah_42

This law has done a lot of good ?  Proof !  or be known as a lier.

Palerider1957
Palerider1957

Oh but of course, I forgot, It's Bush's fault. Oh how silly of me to forget.
I realize that your messiah pResident Taqiyya has yet to make one blunder or mistake that he is responsible for, it's always the other guy.
And for a heads up, maybe you need to educate yourself instead of relying on what you handlers tell you.
The re-writing of the Constitution has been going on for over 100 years, and the last 50 have seen an attack against the Constitution accelerate.
pResident Taqiya has yet to even honour or respect it. He certainly doesn't abide by it what-so-ever.
But look at it another way, at least Cheney, Yu (isn't he now Soetoro's Energy Secretary? You know, the guy who wants gas in America the same price as in Europe [$10]) and Bush didn't give themselves the power to KILL Americans any where at any time, AND THEN EXERCISE THAT POWER after he said he wouldn't. He has already murdered 7 Americans.

But yeah, it's Bush's fault. You dolts make me laugh

brmull
brmull

Clapper's talking points are so vague as to be useless, not to mention that he has no credibility left. Documents obtained by the ACLU in 2010 are consistent with this week's leaks about PRISM. What you have is a warrantless blanket surveillance program targeting foreigners which, if it happens to uncover evidence of an American's participation in a crime, "disseminates" that information to law enforcement.

TexasEx
TexasEx

I walk a path that triggers attention.  I correspond with friends in Benin, Djibouti, Kenya, and elsewhere.  I get phone calls weekly from African families we assist, kids in school and college whom we help.  I connect by FB daily with several countries, some business, some NGO workers, some just friends.  While I'm aware the DoJ, DHS, IRS, and sometimes W & Y are monitoring what I do and say, I still have work to do, not that it's anyone's business but mine.  The government has neither interest nor right to even sniff at any of this.  If I say Tea Party or Progressive or Evangelical, or Muslim, though ... PRISM/IRS/DOJ/Congress/Executive/Judicial/and even the EPA are the ones we know are over the edge.  More to come, I expect.  When checks and balances don't check and balance, decisions on expedient grounds take precedence over principle and rule of law, is that not tyranny?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

People who think that it is the Democrats who are primarily behind the Patriot Act extension need to look at the numbers and think for themselves.

The House voted 277 to 148 in favor of the extension. Twenty-six Republicans opposed the bill, as did 122 Democrats. Sixty-seven Democrats voted in favor along with 210 Republicans.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Curious how the Wall Street editorial pages which are usually virulently anti Obama are bending over backwards to justify these surveillance programs.

SassanK.Darian
SassanK.Darian

Nothing happened was unconstitutional with the government metadata information programs (phone calls, internet). All three branches of the government were involved and it was part of the Patriot Act which the Supreme Court has not ruled unconstitutional. I will say that the Founding Fathers did not have the type of global terrorism that we have to deal with today. The U.S. constitution is a living and breathing document that changes with the times. We have to take the necessary actions to keep the homeland safe. And this only dealt with metadata information and prevented multiple terrorist attacks. If we don't do anything and another major terrorist attack happens, people will blame the government for not doing enough. Both Republicans and Democrats understand this and out of all the gridlock in Washington, this had bipartisan consensus due to protecting the security of our nation. But regardless if you agree with what the government is doing or not, the fact that this guy leaked classified information that he was sworn to protect makes him a traitor and guilty of high crimes against the United States. And what he has done is jeopardized national security. He needs to be extradited and brought to trial for his crimes against the United States. If you don't like the Patriot Act, challenge the constitutionality. In the mean time, this traitor needs to be brought to justice for his crimes against the United States. He deserves the same type of treatment as Bradley Manning.

sacredh
sacredh

As a career federal employee, I'm used to security cameras everywhere. My e-mail is open to inspection. Every computer site is monitored. I get surprise drug tests when I walk in the door even though I've never tested positive for anything. Welcome to my world.

Jeremiah_42
Jeremiah_42

...mitigate these threats.  Proof or excuse  ( hint;   National Security excuse )

JohnSmith19
JohnSmith19

Thank you Edward Snowden. You are a genuine hero in every sens eof the word. Its easy to see who the ignorant sheep are among us with all of their rhetoric & ballhoo about being a "traitor" and the like. Pay them no mind as they do not and would never have the integrity and courage to do what you have done. I thank you and will support you in any way I can. 

BillFisher
BillFisher

Mr. Snowden is a  true American hero. The next generation may be the salvation of the America that the world expects. Thank you Mr. Snowden.

prieten
prieten

I am very thankful my government is doing everything it can to gather intelligence on elements hostile to the USA around the wprld. They are doing their job. This Guardian hatchet job is nothing but a tempest in an English teapot. Take a collection of half-truths, stir them in with a hefty dose of hysteria and you have the current media event about nothing at all but the normal functions of a government. I am amazed at how Republicans are beginning to sound so much like the ACLU they once so despised for always taking the side of the criminals. First, we have Republicans giving aid and comfort to Al Qaida by somehow trying to pin the Benghazi attacks on the Obama administration. Now Repubs are trying to handcuff American efforts to collect intelligence from the Internet. You remind me of dogs who rub themselves in dog doo doo.  

TexasEx
TexasEx

Oh, and the teen who works for me on home repairs says he has friends in the UK and China that he video games with.  His sessions are part of the package the government thinks need oversight.  Sure.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@famulla5 Any legislation must deal with the borders first and then reform.  Washington can no longer be trusted to do what they say they will.  So put it in stone in law that requires they seal the borders first as a precursor to any reform steps can follow.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@SassanK.Darian The Constitution must be amended to change.  To amend the Constitution all states must ratify said change.  No amendments have been put up to change the 4th Amendment of our Bill of Rights.  That is factual.  A fishing expedition is just taht and that has been illegal since the birth of this nation.

theOracle
theOracle

@gggg200000c A tool, like any inanimate object, doesn't have ethics. It's how the tool is used that determines if it's ethical use.

Jeremiah_42
Jeremiah_42

@sacredh Just like a truck driver, but you should be excused.  What harm could you possibly do?  More importantly, you are better than a truck driver ?

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@prieten How am I, a law abiding, peaceful resident of the US hostile to this country?  The legal system, up until now, were forbidden fishing expeditions into the realm of data.  There has been no amendment to the Constitution or Bill of Rights to permit this.  So, how all of a sudden is it Constitutional?

timothyfradenburg
timothyfradenburg

@prieten If you made more sense you'd be making a better point, eh?

Too much sun, you can't follow a sub-plot.

EmilieHandschyn
EmilieHandschyn

@prieten pray tell who was in charge during Benghazi?  Get your head out of the sand and have a KoolAid. 

Jeremiah_42
Jeremiah_42

@prieten The only threats to America is the administration.  Normal functions of government?   Like Cuba?  Have the American people become enemies of the state?

JohnsonGrande
JohnsonGrande

@prieten Another Corrupt-0-Crat tool.  You were squealing about Bush but now singing Obama's praises.  Thus, everything you said about Bush is now rendered null and void and Obama is now worse than Bush.  Especially since Obama campaigned on all the CriminalCrat lies and talking points.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm @SassanK.Darian And yet this was pushed through, challenged and proven to be legal all by the GOP. And guys like you were perfectly okay with it, until a guy you didn't like was elected to office. Hypocrites like you Richard are the reason we don't function well as a society.

sacredh
sacredh

I work at a dam with locks. It's an outside job but still pretty good. We're run by the Dept of the Army.

theOracle
theOracle

@timothyfradenburg @prietenNot in THIS data collection. But last month, I had an Alexander Butterfield moment. Remember Watergate? 

Last month, a former FBI agent was interviewed on a cable news show. The hostess said, responding to an answer, "Too bad they can't actually hear your phone calls." He quipped, "They can.” She exclaimed, "What?!?" He muttered, "Well, maybe I probably shouldn't have said that." 

Duh? So you link all the voice calls, another dump, to the data from the megadata, and bingo--you're in business. They don't have to listen. Just Google and search.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@JohnsonGrande @prieten Why do you insist on talking like a small child? Do you think for a second the GOP is not 100% onboard with this and would not scream bloody murder if it was curtailed?

Diecash1
Diecash1

@RichardHelm @mantisdragon91 You are obviously delirious.  The best the right-wingers could do with Clinton is conduct pointless investigations generating no results.

FYI -- Doug Schoen is not a Democrat.  He's a Fox "news" talking head.


RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @RichardHelm Nope.  Again your reading comprehension skills have let you down (and I am be kind with that comment)

Just so you know, they've only begun to scratch the surface of the underhanded things that have been transpiring.  One thing about Democrats and scandals, Democrats cannot help but put more wood on the fire and add gasoline even though the fire is burning them.  We watched it happen to Clinton.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm @mantisdragon91 So the Democrats are more outraged about the spying then the Republicans are. Guess that is why less of them voted for the extension in the first place. News flash for you. Obama is not a Liberal when it comes to government power of foreign policy. In many ways he is to the right of where Reagan was.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @RichardHelm Oh and here is what a Democrat has to say about Obama:


DOUG SCHOEN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER (@ 1:10): "Let's be clear, Gregg, this is an administration and a presidency that is in crisis. You have three huge issues -- you have the NSA issue that broke this week, the phone records; you have three scandals with the IRS; the Justice Department; you also have an agenda that basically is dead in the water.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm @mantisdragon91 Richard yet again all the GOP mouthpieces like the Wall Street Journal are defending the way the law is being used so obviously they have no issue with it. As to who is administering the law the NSA is.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 Mantis, like all linerals you try to shove words our of my mouth that I did not say.

Now, who is administering the law in question at the present moment?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Actually you did say it was the Democrats who voted it in. And if think the GOP didn't know what was going on you are and even bigger fool than your posts make you seem. As a matter of fact if you go to the Wall Street Journal editorial pages you can see them making excuses for it even as we speak.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 Never said it was all the Democrats fault.  Your posts intimate that it has been the Republicans fault and by your very own facts, you disproved your very own prior posts.

Thanks for saving us the work.


However, there is one very big difference between voting something into law and the management of same.  Regardless of that though, such action as we are seeing is wrong and your trying to push blame on one party, you just disproved.


No apology necessary.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm@mantisdragon91@SassanK.DarianThe renewal was supported by all the GOP. Why do you think the WSJ which is a mouth piece for the GOP is defending the policies even as we speak.

And speaking of legitimate scandals you do realize that it looks like the IRS investigation of the tea party was actually started by a conservative Republican.

Elijah Cummings outplays Darrell Issa He releases the transcript of a Republican IRS manager saying the White House had nothing to do with the scandal


RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @RichardHelm @SassanK.Darian It took Democrats and Republicans to pass the first version but the renewal was primarily a Democrat thing.  You see mantis, many of us are in command of the facts and not afraid to specify them  We also choose to deal with the message rather than the messenger.  By the way, nothing .

And if we are so stupid and hypocritical, why is it yet another mess has opened up on Obama?  Now we are finding out that the State Department squelched legitimate investigations our of fear of scandal but got caught.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @RichardHelm @prieten Not in today scale...but then you already know that.  On a much smaller scale they did it back during Vietnam too.ma and his administration has done though makes everything for his predecessors look like an easter egg hunt.


Wha Oba

timothyfradenburg
timothyfradenburg

@theOracle @prieten  I was raised by a John Bircher. Crazy flyers and books!, and the trilateral commission is great fun when they run bingo night!

theOracle
theOracle

@timothyfradenburg @theOracle @prieten That's right, tf, and when someone says, "We don't listen to your phone calls," that's true, but deceptive, since the printed transcript is the final intelligence product. After the search, the product is checked and printed in a report. This is what Area 52 is processing from collected data when queried. 

timothyfradenburg
timothyfradenburg

@theOracle @timothyfradenburg @prieten transcript will do them (NSA)  no good, only computers can scan millions of sentences daily. Too much data, must have hot words, bums, boobs, rockets, etc. 

Still  Any trained op would use throw down phones...

Who's their target? Us?

timothyfradenburg
timothyfradenburg

@mantisdragon91 @EmilieHandschyn @prieten  And the security level was set by the CIA. Probably set low to cover ops?

Much as I dislike our current admin, it probably was not in admins hands.

Marines do security for state department. SF does security for CIA. I'm not the only dumbass that knows that. What were they thinking?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm@mantisdragon91@smb12321@JohnsonGrande@prietenNo economist believes that lie. It was the lack of oversight on Wall Street, especially their derivative products that crashed the economy.

And stop with the WMD lie. At the time of our invasion Iraq had destroyed their WMDs years ago. The UN inspectors on the ground stated that time and time again and were ignored and marginalized

So yet again how could you possibly claim that this administration is even comparable to the massive mix of criminality and stupidity that characterized the last one? And if you really want to know who authorized the massive presidential power grab and how it was justified you need only watch the following video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6pYe3uya220

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @RichardHelm @smb12321 @JohnsonGrande @prieten No, I just  happen to the facts.  it was the Democrats who put us on the road to the Bank failure compounded when Barney Franks protected Fannie Mae and compounded by groups such as Acorn who sued the banks to force them to give loans out to unqualified buyers.  As well, such loans were made more aggressive by the intervention of Clinton..   As for the WMD's the entire world observed the destruction of the Kurdish Village my WMD's in Iraq.

You see, mantis, unlike you, I specify my facts.  Nor do I resort to name calling which was only useful in grammar and Jr High School days.

Today's events are the culmination of many lies perpetrated by the present Postus and his minions as well as the MSM.  For exaqmple did not the Potus tell us we could keep our current policies under Obamacare when his own people later said we could not.  Did not the current Potus tell us Obamacare would no result in higher prices to us?  Oh and did not Washington DC (via Mz. Rice) tell the whole world Bengazi was due to video reactions rather than the terroists all knew at the time were the real cause?


Don't talk to me about hatred or stupidity.  I do not hate Obama.  I just have no use for a man who will not walk his talk (repeatedly I might add).

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RichardHelm@mantisdragon91@smb12321@JohnsonGrande@prieten

Stop defending the Democrats and Obama who have drug this country further down in such a short period than any other Administration in the history of this nation?

Are you really this blind with your hate and stupidity? It wasn't the Democrats that expanded presidential power to encompass wiretaps and signing statements and it wasn't the Democrats that crashed the economy and got us into two unpaid wars one of which was based on lies. So when you continue to make statements like the one above you lose whatever credibility you may actually have.

RichardHelm
RichardHelm

@mantisdragon91 @smb12321 @JohnsonGrande @prieten Mantis, maybe both parties did craft the tool.  However, only one party right now is improperly using it.  Is that concept too hard for you to comprehend?  Stop defending the Democrats and Obama who have drug this country further down in such a short period than any other Administration in the history of this nation.


smb12321
smb12321

@mantisdragon91 @JohnsonGrande @prieten   why would it matter if the GOP were on board with it if it's the wrong policy?   I don't understand those who base their opinions on what some party leaders think.   If it's wrong, it's wrong for everyone.