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August 30, 2013

DNI James Clapper Promises Annual Transparency Report

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is promising a little more transparency from the spy community.

In a post on Tumblr, Clapper said his office will issue a public annual report on the actions of the U.S. intelligence community — but only on the aspects that are of no threat to national security.

Clapper’s pledge comes after President Barack Obama issued a directive in June that all agencies be as transparent as possible to give the public at least a modicum of understanding about what goes on in the world of intelligence.

The following is an excerpt from Clapper’s post.

Specifically, for each of the following categories of national security authorities, the IC will release the total number of orders issued during the prior 12-month period, and the number of targets affected by these orders:

  • FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) orders based on probable cause ( Titles I and III of FISA, and sections 703 and 704).
  • Section 702 of FISA
  • FISA Business Records (Title V of FISA).
  • FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace ( Title IV of FISA)
  • National Security Letters issued pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 3414(a)(5), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681u(a) and (b), 15 U.S.C. § 1681v, and 18 U.S.C. § 2709.

Our ability to discuss these activities is limited by our need to protect intelligence sources and methods. FISA and national security letters are an important part of our effort to keep the nation and its citizens safe, and disclosing more detailed information about how they are used and to whom they are directed can obviously help our enemies avoid detection.

The reports will be posted on the community website, which was established as a result of Obama’s directive by the Intelligence community. The new website  was created to offer “immediate, ongoing and direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community,” Clapper said.

Obama has also chosen Clapper to head an independent group of experts to review the government’s surveillance programs, despite the fact he was caught lying to Congress in 2011 about the surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The review panel Clapper will head is to assess if U.S. surveillance protects national security and advances to the country’s foreign policy without violating personal privacy rights, according to a document signed by Obama.

The president said the panel would be an independent group of outside experts.

The review group has been given 60 days from the time of its establishment, to submit its interim findings to Obama via Clapper. A final report and recommendations are to be submitted through the Defense for Intelligence (DNI) no later than Dec. 15.