The $1.1 trillion budget bill that passed Congress today, 359-67 (sorry, Tea Party), is 1,582 pages long. It's so long that it has a separate 351-page introduction. Buried deep within both documents, the Guardian discovered, are a few NSA reform nuggets.
From page 8 of the introduction:
The Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) is directed to provide the following to the congressional intelligence committees, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and the House Committee on the Judiciary, not later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act:
1. A report, unclassified to the greatest extent possible, which sets forth for the last five years, on an annual basis, the number of records acquired by the NSA as part of the bulk telephone metadata program authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, pursuant to section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and the number of such records that have been reviewed by NSA personnel in response to a query of such records. Additionally, this report shall provide, to the greatest extent possible, an estimate of the number of records of United States citizens that have been acquired by NSA as part of the bulk telephone metadata program and the number of such records that have been reviewed by NSA personnel in response to a query.
2. A report, unclassified to the greatest extent possible and with a classified annex if necessary, describing all NSA bulk collection activities, including when such 8 activities began, the cost of such activities, the types of records that have been collected in the past, the types of records that are currently being collected, and any plans for future bulk collection.
3. A report, unclassified to the greatest extent possible and with a classified annex if necessary, listing terrorist activities that were disrupted, in whole or in part, with the aid of information obtained through NSA's telephone metadata program and whether this information could have been promptly obtained by other means.
And page 327 of the budget bill:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the National Security Agency to—
(1) conduct an acquisition pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 for the purpose of targeting a United States person; or
(2) acquire, monitor, or store the contents (as such term is defined in section 2510(8) of title 18, United States Code) of any electronic communication of a United States person from a provider of electronic communication services to the public pursuant to section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
Though the introduction says its demands for information must be met within 90 days of the bill's enactment, the Guardian says they will have more of an "advisory effect" and the NSA won't necessarily be compelled to do anything.
The demands in the bill carry more weight, but they're only asking that the NSA not use any of the Act's funds to "target a United States person" -- which the NSA has often argued it doesn't. Except when it does, which is always "incidental."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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