On January 17, the same day President Obama delivered a major speech about the nation’s policy toward signals intelligence, James Clapper Jr., the Director of National Intelligence, announced that he had released to the public hundreds of additional pages of federal government documents related to the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
In June 2013, President Obama directed Clapper to declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive programs, while being mindful of the need to protect sensitive classified intelligence activities and national security. Since then, Clapper has authorized the declassification and public release of numerous documents pertaining to the government’s collection under Sections 501 (commonly referred to as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act) and 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“Today, I authorized the declassification and public release of additional documents relating to collection under Section 501,” said Clapper on January 17. “Today’s release brings the total to approximately 2,300 pages of documents released by the U.S. Government, including 44 Orders and Opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), 11 pleadings and other documents submitted to the FISC, 24 documents provided to Congress, and 20 reports, training slides, and other internal documents describing the legal basis for the programs and how they operate.”
“In addition, I released more than 400 pages of documents detailing the existence of collection activities authorized by former President Bush,” Clapper continued. “These documents were properly classified, and their declassification was not done lightly. These releases reflect the Executive Branch’s continuing commitment to make information about the implementation of Sections 501 and 702 publicly available when appropriate, while ensuring the protection of the national security of the United States. Because these documents include discussion of matters that must remain classified so as to protect national security, it was necessary to redact some information from them.”
The documents released on Jan. 17 comprise orders from the FISC approving the National Security Agency’s (NSA) collection and use of telephony metadata under Section 501. These orders provide additional information regarding the controls imposed by the FISC on the processing, dissemination, security and oversight of telephony metadata acquired under Section 501. This includes the Court’s imposition of additional controls in response to compliance incidents that were discovered by NSA and then reported to the FISC.
These orders are available at the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (http://www.dni.gov), and ODNI’s public website dedicated to fostering greater public visibility into the intelligence activities of the Government (IContheRecord.tumblr.com), explained Clapper’s statement.