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After the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers made public more information about the extent of domestic surveillance by the U.S. government, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last night took the unusual step of declassifying part of the latest program the newspapers uncovered.
At the same time, Clapper is calling the leak of information a threat to national security.
The newspapers described the PRISM program which, without warrants, collects and stores massive amounts of data from ordinary Americans including their audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents and data about internet connections from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, You Tube and Apple.
Clapper insisted that a secret court approves any of in-depth searches, solely of foreign terrorism suspects.
But civil liberties and privacy advocates are crying foul. And journalist James Bamford says the news confirms what former NSA whistleblowers have for years been claiming about domestic surveillance after 9/11.
Washington Post “The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.”
Guardian “The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.”