Unclassified Report On The President's Surveillance Program
Pursuant to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the Inspectors General of the DOJ, DoD, ODNI, NSA, and CIA conducted reviews of the PSP. In this report, the classified report, and the accompanying individual reports of the participating IGs, we describe how, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President directed that the NSA's signals intelligence collection capabilities be used to detect and prevent acts of terrorism within the United States.
Pursuant to this authority the NSA conducted new intelligence activities, including the collection of the content of communications into and out of the United States, where one party to the communication was reasonably believed to be a member of al-Qa'ida or its affiliates. The NSA analyzed this information for dissemination as leads to the IC, principally to the CIA and the FBI. As described in the IG reports, the scope of this collection authority changed over the course of the PSP.
The IG reports describe the role of each of the participating agencies in the PSP, including the NSA's management and oversight of the collection and analysis process, the CIA's and FBI's use of the PSP-derived intelligence in their counterterrorism efforts, the ODNI's involvement in the program by 37 providing periodic threat assessments and using the program intelligence to produce analytical products, and DOJ's role in analyzing and certifying the legality of the PSP. With the exception of the NSA, the DoD had limited involvement in the PSP.
The IG reports also describe the conflicting views surrounding the legality of aspects of the PSP during 2004, the confrontation between officials from DOJ and the White House about the legal basis for parts of the program, as well as the resolution of that conflict. The ensuing transition of the PSP from presidential authority to statutory authority under FISA is also described in the IG reports.
The IGs also examined the impact of PSP information on counterterrorism efforts. Many senior IC officials believe that the PSP filled a gap in intelligence collection thought to exist under the FISA statute shortly after the al-Qa'ida terrorist attacks against the United States. Others within the IC, including FBI agents, CIA analysts and officers, and other officials had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the PSP to counterterrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many available analytic and intelligence-gathering tools in these efforts. The IG reports describe several examples of how PSP-derived information factored into specific investigations and operations.
Finally, the collection activities pursued under the PSP, and under FISA following the PSP's transition to that authority, involved unprecedented collection activities. We believe the retention and use by IC organizations of information collected under the PSP and FISA should be carefully monitored.
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