Intel. Community To Clarify How It Can Use Open Source Info About Americans

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- The chief civil liberties protection officer for the intelligence community disclosed today that the government would soon issue guidelines to analysts charged with sifting through open-source -- or publicly available -- information about U.S. persons with possible connections to terrorism or espionage.

'If you have taken steps to follow the terms and conditions of your website and that information is not available general public, then that information is not available to analysts under our U.S. persons rule," said Alexander Joel, who works for the Office of the Director of Office of National Intelligence. "That's the sort of guidance we'll be issuing." (If the persons in question do have connections to terrorism, the guidelines, one presumes, will differ.)

Under Executive Order 12333 and federal law, intelligence collection on people within the U.S. is severely constrained by rules that the attorney general must certify. Some of those rules are highly classified. Joel works closely with the intelligence agencies "to try and prevent problems before they happen," he said.

Joel told an audience of legal and national security officials that he carries around a Constitution in his pocket. His office, about which little is known, has an authorized strength of.ten people. Among other duties, he said that the DNI, Dennis Blair, had asked him to make sure that civil liberties considerations were included in the post-Christmas Day bombing attempt reviews. His office works with the Department of Justice to conduct the semi-annual review of the FISA Amendment Acts, which codified elements of the Presidential Surveillance Program.