The previously released heavily redacted “FISA Amendments Act of 2008 Section 702 Summary Document” has been released in a less redacted form following a Mandatory Declassification Review filed by The Black Vault. The original document, published on December 23, 2008, provided a crucial insight into the U.S. government’s approach to acquiring foreign intelligence information, particularly from non-U.S. persons located outside the United States.
The further declassified document offers a more detailed look at how the U.S. government compels electronic communication service providers to assist in intelligence gathering. Section 702 operates as an exception to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), enabling the acquisition of foreign intelligence information without the traditional individual court orders required by FISA for each target.
A significant aspect of the document is its detailed explanation of the targeting and certification process. It outlines how the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Attorney General issue certifications and directives, requiring service providers’ assistance, with the NSA Director’s support.
Another critical area covered is the minimization procedures, which focus on the handling of information about U.S. persons, detailing steps to protect their privacy and limit the retention and dissemination of such information. This part of the document underscores the efforts to balance national security needs with individual privacy rights.
Moreover, the document discusses oversight and compliance, detailing the roles of various bodies like the NSA’s Office of Oversight and Compliance and the Department of Justice, in ensuring adherence to the procedures.
The release of this document marks an essential step toward transparency, allowing for a more informed public discourse about U.S. surveillance practices. It provides a rare glimpse into the procedural and legal mechanisms the U.S. government employs to safeguard privacy while collecting foreign intelligence, highlighting the complex balance between national security interests and individual rights.
The earlier versions of this document, with substantial redactions, limited public insight into these surveillance practices. This updated, less redacted version, although still containing some redactions, offers a more comprehensive view, reflecting successful efforts to lift some of the previous redactions. This development is crucial for those advocating for greater transparency and accountability in government surveillance activities. (Note: The Black Vault recognizes that a leaked, unredacted, version is floating around on some websites. However, The Black Vault continues the efforts to get records declassified through legal means and not profile leaked classified information.)
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