Clapper reveals Bush-era docs showing NSA spying dragnet started 2001

Sunday, December 22, 2013
By Paul Martin

Obama’s Director for National Intelligence, James Clapper, has declassified new documents that reveal how the NSA was first given the green light to start collecting bulk communication data in the hunt for Al-Qaeda terrorists after 9/11.

President Barack Obama’s administration has for the first time publicly confirmed “the existence of collection activities authorized by President George W. Bush,” such as bulk amounts of Internet and phone metadata, as part of the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (TSP).

The disclosures are part of Washington’s campaign to justify the NSA’s surveillance activities, following massive leaks to the media about the classified programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Clapper explained on Saturday that President George W. Bush first authorized the spying in October 2001, just weeks after the September 11 attacks.

It was revealed that President Bush issued authorizations every 30-60 days. Each authorization required “the minimization of information collected concerning American citizens to the extent consistent with the effective accomplishment of the mission of detection and prevention of acts of terrorism within the United States. NSA also applied additional internal constraints on the presidentially authorized activities.”

The presidentially authorized activities were later shifted to the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a secret court which considers government requests for electronic surveillance for intelligence-related purposes. The collection of communications content pursuant to presidential authorization ended in 2007, when the government switched TSP to FISA’s authority, and put it under the orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

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