In a bid to appear more transparent, the Director of National Intelligence today released data on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic spying operation.


NSA’s report lifts the curtains on National Security Letters, FISA orders and more

The report pulls back the curtain on 38,812 targets of National Security Letters, 1,767 FISA orders, and 423 targets of FISA business records requests, consistent with the relatively low numbers offered by President Obama in previous speeches. In one notable section, a single 702 order reached nearly 90,000 targets, presumably through the XKeyscore program, which targets emails and online chats.

In regards to the most clandestine surveillance operations, the 38,812 “target” in the program, these were not broken out by geographic region so the number inside the US is unknown. “Within the Intelligence Community, the term ‘target’ has multiple meanings,” the government disclosure explained without really nailing the issue that mattered. “For example, ‘target’ could be an individual person, a group, or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power that possesses or is likely to communicate foreign intelligence information that the U.S. government is authorized to acquire by the above-referenced laws. “

NSA targeting those in US legal jurisdiction

The report made it clear that the NSA is targeting those within the US legal jurisdiction. “The statutory provisions of Section 702 state that the Government “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of the acquisition to be located in the United States” (emphasis added by report author), among other express limitations.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald announced he was going to publish a list of those inside the US who are being targeted by the NSA, which he claimed in tweets included US citizens engaged in controversial political activism.

“One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists? What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer,” Greenwald  told The Sunday Times of London.

When Greenwald was contacted to determine when the report was going to be released, he did not return comment by press time.