WASHINGTON (WKOW) – The director of national intelligence is trying to set the record straight after leaked documents revealed that the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been tapping into the Internet company servers to collect audio, video, photographs, emails and other documents.
James Clapper says the disclosure of an Internet surveillance program is "reprehensible" and a document leak about a phone records program could cause long-lasting and irreversible harm to the nation's ability to respond to threats.
The NSA and FBI are able to obtain documents, audio, and e-mails under a program code-named PRISM. However, many companies told ABC News say they do not routinely give the government direct access to private data.
James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a written statement that the Post report and another on phone surveillance by The Guardian contained "numerous inaccuracies," and that the data collection only targets non-Americans outside the United States. A special court reviews the program every 90 days and the court prohibits the government from indiscriminately sifting through phone data.
According to the Post, intelligence agencies use PRISM to collect information on the contacts and movements of "targets" that they believe are at least 51 percent confident are foreign. However, sometimes it does accidentally collect U.S. content.
The information that is collected is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. Authorities say the information cannot be used to target any U.S. citizen or anyone located within the United States; it is strictly foreign based.