Former President George W. Bush first authorized the National Security Agency’s phone and Internet surveillance programs just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Saturday as part of declassified disclosures about the programs’ beginnings.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been fighting civil liberties advocates’ demands for years to disclose details about the extent of the program — and on Friday, the Obama administration ordered some of the information about the beginnings of the programs to be declassified, reports The Wall Street Journal.
On Friday, Clapper and NSA Deputy Director Frances Fleisch also filed formal statements as part of a lawsuit brought against the government by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF claims in its suit that the program, which continued under the Obama administration, conducts surveillance on “practically every American who uses the phone system or the Internet,” but Clapper and Fleisch denied those claims.
“The NSA’s collection of the content of communications under the TSP [or Terrorist Surveillance Program] was directed at international communications in which a participant was reasonably believed to be associated with al-Qaida or an affiliated organization,” Clapper said in his statement.
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