The final version of a new White House open government action plan is substantially expanded from a recently circulated preliminary draft – although many of the actions called for in the plan aren't new initiatives.
"The intelligence community is not designed and built for transparency. We're designed and built for the opposite," said Alexander Joel, the ODNI's civil liberties protection officer. He spoke on a panel at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies Dec. 4.
A regulation jointly proposed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management to update the position-designation process is inadequate, said a Government Accountability Office official. The proposed regulation is "a good step" toward meeting GAOs recommendations for updating security clearance issuance at agencies, said Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities and management at GAO. However, implementation guidance still needs to be developed.
Intelligence officials Wednesday said they oppose a law that would require them to disclose the number of Americans whose communications are swept up in surveillance of foreigners on the grounds that there's no reliable way to do so. During a Nov. 13 Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, ODNI General Counsel Robert Litt said counting the number of affected Americans "is operationally very difficult, at least without an extraordinary investment of resources and maybe not even then."
Sequestration cut an already-declining intelligence community budget by more than $4 billion in fiscal 2013, recently released statistics from the Defense Department and the National Intelligence Director show.
Intelligence officials pushed back against proposals to end the bulk storage of telephony metadata, telling a Nov. 4 oversight panel that limiting metadata collection to cases when the records can be tied to particular individuals would make counterterrorism efforts more difficult.
A bill introduced Oct. 29 in the House and the Senate would restrict intelligence community data collection and storage, although intelligence officials that same day continued their defense of the status quo, with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warning a House panel of "potential negative long-term impact of overcorrecting the authorizations granted to the intelligence community."
The National Security Agency collects webmail inboxes and instant messaging buddy lists through secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications providers and other intelligence services able to intercept traffic along the Internet backbone, says reporting based on the latest round of documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
American telephone companies have at their disposal a "substantial and engaging adversarial process" to challenge the legality of Patriot Act orders for the bulk collection of telephone records by the intelligence community, but none have done so, says a newly declassified (but redacted) opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The National Security Agency on a daily basis for 3 years illegally accessed telephone metadata records and misled the secret court meant to oversee the storage program, newly declassified documents show.