The United States Director of National Intelligence has publicly acknowledged -- for the first time -- the existence of National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance programs dating back to 2001. The admission comes by way of court documents filed in two separate cases involving the NSA. The documents were posted to the office's website this weekend.
The announcement was entitled "DNI Announces the Declassification of the Existence of Collection Activities Authorized by President George W. Bush Shortly After the Attacks of September 11, 2001". It acknowledged the mass collection of private communications for both content and metadata from telecommunications companies. But the announcement also mentioned the intelligence community's claim that admitting what has now become common knowledge about the techniques used for the collection activities would pose a national security threat.
The director of the eponymous agency, James R. Clapper Jr., wrote in a brief that admitting the details "could seriously undermine an important tool—metadata collection and analysis—for tracking possible terrorist plots." His argument was that revealing the methods would help terrorists evade capture efforts.
The agency also appended eight additional documents to the announcement itself. The documents are declarations of state secrets ranging in time from 2007 to 2013. Each PDF details the reasoning for its prior classification of a range of revelations. They were issued in response to court orders for NSA information relevant to proceedings.
SOURCE: Ars Technica