NSA declassifies documents on domestic phone surveillance, essentially confirms what everyone knew

William Green Contributor
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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence Wednesday released a series of previously classified documents detailing the National Security Agency’s controversial domestic phone records collection program. The Office released the documents ahead of a Senate Judiciary hearing Wednesday in which top intelligence officials testified on the program and others leaked by controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The documents included letters from 2009 and 2011 to both congressional intelligence committees briefing members on the program, its legal justification and the various oversight procedures designed to restrain it. The letters, issued as the relevant portions of the Patriot Act were being considered for reauthorization, stressed that the content of calls was not being recorded. Only information about calls known as metadata, such as the identity and location of callers and the length of a call, which is not protected by the 4th Amendment, was being collected.

Also included in the release was a heavily redacted April order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that outlined the legal restraints and safeguards involved in the collection, retention, use and destruction of citizens’ phone records by intelligence agencies.

The trio of documents offered little new information, serving essentially as confirmation of what was already revealed in a FISC order compelling Verizon to turn over their domestic phone records leaked by Snowden in June.

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