Over at The Guardian, Glen Greenwald and James Ball have released two documents (here and here) that detail “procedures the NSA is required to follow to target ‘non-US persons’ under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.”
The documents show the circumstances in which information collected on US citizens “must be destroyed, extensive steps analysts must take to try to check targets are outside the US, and reveals how US call records are used to help remove US citizens and residents from data collection.”
These policies also reveal that the NSA can:
• Keep data that could potentially contain details of US persons for up to five years;
• Retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
• Preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney-client communications;
• Access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the US, for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.
Greenwald and Bell write that “the broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants.”