Just ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today to discuss the FISA surveillance program with key officials from the NSA, FBI, DNI & DoJ, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declassified and released several telephone metadata collection documents.

The bulk telephone data collection process and transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the orders, became one of several topics of debate after information disclosed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. One of the classified documents released by the former NSA contractor included a secondary FISC order for the phone metadata records of a Verizon subsidiary.  Today’s release apparently includes the full court order.

From the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

In the interest of increased transparency, the Director of National Intelligence has authorized the declassification and public release of the attached documents pertaining to the collection of telephone metadata pursuant to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. DNI Clapper has determined that the release of these documents is in the public interest.

Here are the documents (in PDF):

The company name in the primary order has been redacted, but the Washington Post reports that it is in relation to the Verizon subsidiary.

Although no company names appear on the heavily redacted court order, senior U.S. officials said it was issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to a subsidiary of Verizon in April. Officials described it as the formal order underlying the directive that was disclosed in June by Snowden, who is accused of leaking classified information about surveillance programs.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity before the order was released because they were not authorized to speak publicly, expressed hope that the document would shed light on how the U.S. government obtains communications records under FISA and the restrictions placed on surveillance programs.

The NSA has earlier said it was reviewing whether or not to stop the telephone data collection and retention program and place the data retention responsibility with the private phone companies instead.

Primary Order for Business Records Collection Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act


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