Amidst continued outrage over an expansive NSA surveillance program called PRISM - first reported by The Guardian and The Washington Post - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has responded with an official "fact sheet" of what the program actually is.

"Over the last week we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe," Clapper said in statement. "In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context-including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government-to these effective tools."

Clapper went on to chide The Guardian and The Washington Post for breaking the story, saying the program is "lawful and conducted under authorities widely known ... and authorized by Congress."
Clapper continued in his statement, writing, "Not all the inaccuracies can be corrected without further revealing classified information. I have, however, declassified for release the attached details about the recent unauthorized disclosures in hope that it will help dispel some of the myths and add necessary context to what has been published."

Here are some of the most important points made in the Fact Sheet:

  • The authority behind PRISM comes from Section 702 of the FISA Act, created by Congress "and has been widely known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008."
  • The U.S. government "does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communications providers." A FISA court approval is required.
  • Section 702 cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen.
  • Communications collected under the program have "yielded intelligence regarding proliferation networks and have directly and significantly contributed to successful operations to impede" proliferation of WMDs and related technologies.
Now read the full statement: