NSA Aims to Declassify Data on Thwarted Terror Attacks
[An Nahar] The National Security Agency is expected to reveal details Monday about terror plots it says were thwarted by its surveillance, part of an effort to assuage public concern that government is spying on innocent Americans.

In a rare move the NSA said last week it would declassify data on what its director told Congress were dozens of foiled plots, which could help justify its sweeping surveillance operations in the eyes of U.S. skeptics worried about the amount of information being scooped up by intelligence agencies.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was told in a classified hearing that NSA chief General Keith Alexander aimed to release the information Monday.

The intelligence community offered a weekend primer on the two programs at the heart of the controversy: an NSA program that collects telephone "metadata" -- but not content -- of billions of calls, and the gathering of digital communications, such as emails, that helps target foreign terrorists.

Both were approved by Congress, but concern has been raised by some politicians that the programs under President Barack Obama
Jedi mind meld...
's administration are being abused.

"In recent years, the intelligence gathered under (these programs) has contributed to the disruption of dozens of potential terrorist plots here in the homeland and in more than 20 countries around the world," according to the overview released Saturday.

"We are working to be able to provide more information about this."

It also stressed that the phone program, authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, is subject to strict oversight and "does not allow the government to listen to anyone's phone calls."

Such action would require a secret FISA Court, set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to determined that there is reasonable suspicion to further monitor suspects.

"In 2012, less than 300 unique identifiers met this standard and were queried."

Posted by: Fred 2013-06-18