from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2014, Issue No. 47
July 18, 2014
Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
- SENATE BILL REQUIRES REPORT ON "ALL" NSA BULK COLLECTION
- DNI ISSUES NEW POLICY ON LEAK DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS
SENATE BILL REQUIRES REPORT ON "ALL" NSA BULK COLLECTION
The National Security Agency would be required to prepare an unclassified report on "all NSA bulk collection activities," the Senate Appropriations Committee directed in its report on the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, published yesterday.
The Committee told the NSA to prepare a report "describing all NSA bulk collection activities, including when such activities began, the cost of such activities, what types of records have been collected in the past, what types of records are currently being collected, and any plans for future bulk collection."
Such a report would be expected to clarify whether NSA bulk collection extends beyond the acknowledged telephone metadata program in Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.
The required report is to be "unclassified to the greatest extent possible," the Senate Committee said.
In the reporting requirements that it imposed on NSA, the Senate Appropriations Committee notably went beyond what was required by the Senate or House Intelligence Committees.
The Appropriations Committee also directed NSA to submit additional reports on the total number of records acquired and reviewed by NSA in its bulk telephone metadata program over the past five years, and an estimate of the number of records of U.S. persons that have been acquired and reviewed in the telephone metadata program.
Another unclassified report is required to provide "a list of terrorist activities that were disrupted, in whole or in part, with the aid of information obtained through NSA's telephone metadata program."
A January 2014 report of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found that the Section 215 telephone metadata program had "minimal value in protecting the nation from terrorism."
"We are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack," the PCLOB report said.
In contrast to the Section 215 bulk telephone metadata program, the PCLOB said in a report this month that the Section 702 program to collect the communications of targeted non-U.S. persons abroad "has proven valuable in a number of ways to the government's efforts to combat terrorism," and had enabled the government to "discover previously unknown terrorist operatives and disrupt specific terrorist plots."
The Board cautioned, however, that the 702 program "may allow a substantial amount of private information about U.S. persons to be acquired by the government, examined by its personnel, and used in ways that may have a negative impact on those persons."
An estimate of the amount of such U.S. person information collected under the Section 702 program was not specifically required by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
DNI ISSUES NEW POLICY ON LEAK DAMAGE ASSESSMENTS
The Director of National Intelligence has issued new guidance on assessing damage resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence information to ensure that the damage assessments "are produced in an efficient, timely, consistent and collaborative manner."
Leak damage assessments should be used iteratively and the lessons learned from them should be applied "to strengthen the protection of classified national intelligence and prevent future unauthorized disclosures or compromises."
In addition to the facts and circumstances of the unauthorized disclosure, damage assessments should identify "any foreign involvement" in the case and "actionable recommendations to prevent future occurrences."
Where foreign partners are affected by the leak, agency heads shall coordinate with DNI "prior to notifying a foreign government." Also, "foreign governments normally will not be advised of any security system vulnerabilities that contributed to the compromise."
See "Damage Assessments," Intelligence Community Directive 732, June 27, 2014:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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