Marc Ambinder

U.S. responds to NSA disclosures

"On its face, the order... does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls"

All through the night, the National Security Council worked with the intelligence community to come up with a formal response to Glenn Greenwald's story in the Guardian about NSA telephone record collection.

A senior government official sends along the combined talking points:

* The article discusses what purports to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under a provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that authorizes the production of business records. Orders of the FISA Court are classified.

* On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.

* Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.

* As we have publicly stated before, all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorizing intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress passed that act and is regularly and fully briefed on how it is used, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizes such collection.

* There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That regime has been briefed to and approved by the Court.

* Activities authorized under the Act are subject to strict controls and procedures under oversight of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FISA Court, to ensure that they comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.

Recommended

Biden's silence on capital punishment tests fellow opponents
Joe Biden, Merrick Garland
Silent but potentially deadly

Biden's silence on capital punishment tests fellow opponents

10 things you need to know today: June 18, 2021
A sign
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 18, 2021

Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert cheer Juneteenth
Juneteenth no votes
Last Night on Late Night

Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert cheer Juneteenth

Teen buys repossessed storage units, then returns everything to original owners
Moving boxes.
it wasn't all bad

Teen buys repossessed storage units, then returns everything to original owners

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now

Georgia election workers reportedly received a 'torrent' of threats
Trump rally.
The big lie

Georgia election workers reportedly received a 'torrent' of threats