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EXCERPTS: Clapper defends spy programs

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper says reporters have put Americans at risk by revealing existence of the Prism Internet surveillance program, and he strongly defends the NSA's gathering of telephone metadata records. Below are excerpts and text of his prepared statements, plus his answer to National Journal when asked how he could answer “No sir” when asked by a senator whether the NSA collects “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans.

James R. Clapper (Credit: USGIF)

On the Verizon phone records >>

• “In order to provide a more thorough understanding of the program, I have directed that certain information related to the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act be declassified and immediately released to the public.” - June 6 statement (See item 1 below for full text.)

• “The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber. The only type of information acquired under the Court’s order is telephony metadata, such as telephone numbers dialed and length of calls.”

• “The collection is broad in scope because more narrow collection would limit our ability to screen for and identify terrorism-related communications. Acquiring this information allows us to make connections related to terrorist activities over time...”

• "Discussing programs like this publicly will have impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions."

Blasting The Guardian and Washington Post for Prism stories >>

“The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.” (See item 2 below for full text.)

Explaining his answer to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, during a March hearing >>

"What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens' e-mails. I stand by that.” (Interview with National Journal)

TEXT OF STATEMENTS:

1. Clapper on the Verizon court order:

June 6, 2013

DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information

The highest priority of the Intelligence Community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security.

The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.

The article omits key information regarding how a classified intelligence collection program is used to prevent terrorist attacks and the numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties.

I believe it is important for the American people to understand the limits of this targeted counterterrorism program and the principles that govern its use. In order to provide a more thorough understanding of the program, I have directed that certain information related to the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act be declassified and immediately released to the public.

The following important facts explain the purpose and limitations of the program:
• The judicial order that was disclosed in the press is used to support a sensitive intelligence collection operation, on which members of Congress have been fully and repeatedly briefed. The classified program has been authorized by all three branches of the Government.
• Although this program has been properly classified, the leak of one order, without any context, has created a misleading impression of how it operates. Accordingly, we have determined to declassify certain limited information about this program.
• The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber. The only type of information acquired under the Court’s order is telephony metadata, such as telephone numbers dialed and length of calls.
• The collection is broad in scope because more narrow collection would limit our ability to screen for and identify terrorism-related communications. Acquiring this information allows us to make connections related to terrorist activities over time. The FISA Court specifically approved this method of collection as lawful, subject to stringent restrictions.
• The information acquired has been part of an overall strategy to protect the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it may assist counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities.
• There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which ensures that those activities comply with the Constitution and laws and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties. The program at issue here is conducted under authority granted by Congress and is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). By statute, the Court is empowered to determine the legality of the program.
• By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program. All information that is acquired under this program is subject to strict, court-imposed restrictions on review and handling. The collection is broad in scope because more narrow collection would limit our ability to screen for and identify terrorism-related communications. Acquiring this information allows us to make connections related to terrorist activities over time. Only specially cleared counterterrorism personnel specifically trained in the Court-approved procedures may even access the records.
• All information that is acquired under this order is subject to strict restrictions on handling and is overseen by the Department of Justice and the FISA Court. Only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed because the vast majority of the data is not responsive to any terrorism-related query.
• The Court reviews the program approximately every 90 days. DOJ conducts rigorous oversight of the handling of the data received to ensure the applicable restrictions are followed. In addition, DOJ and ODNI regularly review the program implementation to ensure it continues to comply with the law.
• The Patriot Act was signed into law in October 2001 and included authority to compel production of business records and other tangible things relevant to an authorized national security investigation with the approval of the FISC. This provision has subsequently been reauthorized over the course of two Administrations – in 2006 and in 2011. It has been an important investigative tool that has been used over the course of two Administrations, with the authorization and oversight of the FISC and the Congress.

Discussing programs like this publicly will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions. Surveillance programs like this one are consistently subject to safeguards that are designed to strike the appropriate balance between national security interests and civil liberties and privacy concerns. I believe it is important to address the misleading impression left by the article and to reassure the American people that the Intelligence Community is committed to respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all American citizens.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

2. Clapper addresses Prism program, but not yet by name:

June 6, 2013

DNI Statement on Activities Authorized Under Section 702 of FISA

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 authorized 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 unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
###

3. Clapper explains decision to release Prism details (See item 4 for fact sheet) released

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
WASHINGTON, DC 20511

June 8, 2013

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

Over the last week we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe. In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context–including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government–to these effective tools.

In particular, the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress. Their purpose is to obtain foreign intelligence information, including information necessary to thwart terrorist and cyber attacks against the United States and its allies.

Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods. Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a “playbook” of how to avoid detection. Nonetheless, Section 702 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.

However, there are significant misimpressions that have resulted from the recent articles. Not all the inaccuracies can be corrected without further revealing classified information. I have, however, declassified for release the attached details (Editor's note: See item 4 below) 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.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

4. Prism details

DI R E C T O R OF NA T I O N A L IN T E L L I G E N C E
WASHINGTON,DC 20511

June 8, 2013
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 info
rmation 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.

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