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US intelligence chief backs Internet spy program

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Posted June 10, 2013
President Barack Obama gestures during a statment about the Affordable Care Act, Friday, June 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. Speaking about the NSA collecting of phone records, the president said`Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,' just numbers and duration. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Barack Obama gestures during a statment about the Affordable Care Act, Friday, June 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. Speaking about the NSA collecting of phone records, the president said`Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,’ just numbers and duration. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The top U.S. intelligence official stressed Saturday that a previously undisclosed program for tapping into Internet usage is authorized by Congress, falls under strict supervision of a secret court and cannot intentionally target an American citizen. He decried the revelation of that and another intelligence-gathering program as reckless.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, eager to quell a domestic furor over U.S. spying, took the rare step for the second time in three days of declassifying some details of an intelligence program to respond to media reports about counterterrorism techniques employed by the government.

“Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a ‘playbook’ of how to avoid detection,” he said in a statement.

Clapper said the data collection under the program, first unveiled by the newspapers The Washington Post and The Guardian, was with the approval of the secret ForeignIntelligence Surveillance Act Court and with the knowledge of Internet service providers. He emphasized that the government does not act unilaterally to obtain that data from the servers of those providers.

The National Security Agency filed a criminal report with the Justice Department earlier this week in relation to the leaks, Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in an email Saturday to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama defended the counterterrorism methods on Friday and said Americans need to “make some choices” in balancing privacy and security. But the president’s response and Clapper’s unusual public stance underscore the nerve touched by the disclosures and the sensitivity of the Obama administration to any suggestion that it is trampling on the civil liberties of Americans.

Read more at: Phys.org

 

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