#NSA takes surveillance fact sheets off website

from Politico.com: Following a complaint from two senators, the National Security Agency
has removed from its website two fact sheets designed to shed light on
and defend a pair of surveillance programs.
Users now trying to access
the documents detailing surveillance under legal authorities known as
Section 215 and Section 702 receive an error message when they try to
load the fact sheets.

On Monday, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote to
the head of the spy agency alleging that one of the documents was
misleading and inaccurate. The senators claimed, without elaborating,
that a fact sheet “contains an inaccurate statement about how the
section 702 authority has been interpreted by the U.S. government.”

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander responded to the two lawmakers
Tuesday, and while he didn’t admit inaccuracy, he said the documents
could have been clearer.

“After reviewing your letter, I agree that the fact sheet that the
National Security Agency posted on its website on 18 June 2013 could
have more precisely described the requirements for collection under
Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act,” Alexander said in a letter of
his own (posted here).

Separately Tuesday, another NSA official said the removal of the fact sheets and letter from the senators were unrelated.

“Given the intense interest from the media, the public, and Congress,
we believe the precision of the source document (the statute) is the
best possible representation of applicable authorities,” NSA
spokesperson Judith Emmel said in a statement.

The documents, still available here,
were published in the wake of revelations about the extent of the NSA’s
surveillance programs. They sought to highlight the safeguards the NSA
uses to make sure American communications aren’t caught up in its
surveillance — or if they are, what the NSA does to remove identifying
information about U.S. citizens. Wyden and Udall, both of whom sit on
the Senate Intelligence Committee, have long called for more
transparency on how the NSA protects Americans’ privacy — but said the
NSA’s fact sheets gave the wrong impression.

“The Senator has received the letter and appreciates that the
misleading fact sheet has been taken down,” Wyden spokesman Tom Caiazza

The NSA procedures for targeting foreigners and minimizing American
communications were further unveiled last Thursday when The Guardian and
Washington Post posted detailed copies of the guidelines. Many privacy
advocates were not satisfied with the procedures, arguing that they give
the government too much leeway when determining if a potential target
is foreign or American. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
had no comment on the procedures after they were disclosed.

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