Official: Damage assessment over U.S. intelligence-gathering leaks
June 8th, 2013
11:34 PM ET

Official: Damage assessment over U.S. intelligence-gathering leaks

By Chelsea J. Carter and Jessica Yellin

Following the furor over revelations the U.S. government is collecting telephone records and data mining popular online services, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper took the unusual step Saturday of declassifying some details about the programs.

In doing so, Clapper reiterated President Barack Obama's position that the programs are necessary to fight terrorism, while one of his deputies said the administration was looking into possible repercussions caused by leaks to the media about programs.

"We are doing an assessment of the damage that has been done to U.S. national security by the revelation of this information," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during a news briefing in Rancho Mirage, California, where President Barack Obama was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"...Currently, there's a review underway to understand what potential damage may be done."

Clapper's declassification of some details is the most comprehensive explanation by the government to date of how the programs work and what information they collect.

Among the details made public: The National Security Agency's PRISM program - the program that reportedly allows the government to access online services - is an internal government computer system that is used to manage foreign intelligence collected from online providers and services.

"Over the last week we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe," Clapper said in a statement distributed along with a two-and-a-half pages of details about the programs.

"In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context - including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government."

The release of the declassified material comes as the government is under fire following revelations about the surveillance and intelligence programs that have seen privacy advocates call for reforms and elected officials question the expansive nature of the intelligence-gathering activities.

The revelations began Wednesday, when a British newspaper, the Guardian, published a top secret order from an intelligence court that required Verizon Business Network Services to give telephone records detailing the time, location and telephone numbers involved in domestic calls from April 25 to July 19.

That was followed a day later by a report from The Washington Post that the government was using a program called PRISM that reportedly allows NSA analysts access to computers at Microsoft, Google, Apple and other companies to extract details of customer activities, including "audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents" and other materials.

Clapper said the surveillance activities published in the Guardian and The Washington Post are "lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress" since its inception in 2008.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Unknown

    Edward Snowden is a spied......He did it.

    June 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Reply

    This man should be tried for treason. In today's world we have to do some things to keep us safe, anyone that cannot get that has no intelligence. This technology is what has kept another 911 from happening. If you are not doing anything wrong, why would you care.

    June 10, 2013 at 7:49 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Another senseless post from another mindless Tea Partier above! With this kind of ignorance abound, this country is already in deep trouble!!!

      June 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Wake up people! Google has been doing the same thing and much more!!! The NSA could save a lot of money by contracting with Google! No one complains about Google's vast intrusions into our private lives! This NSA phone number project is nothing to worry about, worry more about what Google knows about you!!!

      June 12, 2013 at 8:16 am | Reply
      • Daniel

        The NSA already contracts with Google.

        June 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  3. Depak Raj

    Together we can find the terrorisrs and criminals and put them in prison. Key strokes and clandesyine cell phone conversations tell the story and we have them cold with evidence. God bless the United States of America !

    June 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Reply
    • massoud

      Big Brother Is Watching You !

      June 10, 2013 at 12:23 am | Reply
      • StanCalif

        Surprise! Google knows much more about you than the NSA!
        Want to worry about something? Worry about what Google has on you!
        The NSA could save billions with a phone call to Google!

        June 12, 2013 at 8:21 am |
      • Pete

        @massoud,hey imbecile how yah doing !!Been chasin any goats,camels looking for potential girlfriends or just one nighters lately...And you're just another natural born American with ancestors here with a funny Muslim name thats all right massoud you goat chasin ragheaded imbecile..And boot licker ta boot..Big Brother is watchin you and wants you gone yah illegal immigrent!!

        June 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  4. Rajiv Chiavinathan

    These programs keep the terrirusts and criminals from being able to sleep at night. The computers today are so good at pocking ip what criminals and terrorists are sating in conversations and these make a great tool to arrest them before they can do a lot of harm. The only problem left to solve is we need so much more cpace to handle the incarcerated. Internment camps are a good short term measure, but we need to think in terms of the next several decades to come.

    June 9, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Reply
    • Killer O'Bama

      Another good post here. Thank you, Rajiv.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  5. Eugene Humphrey

    We need to hunt down these criminals and send them to GITMO. This kind of espionage is becoming a real problem. There are millions of criminals and terrorists out there and we need the tools to investigate and convict or even kill on the spot if necessary. Thankfully the teachnology to rid our country of criminals and terrorists is here, but we need to make sure these tools are not compromised. This is exactly why Manning should be tortured as much as ythe law will allow and then summarily executed. We need to set examples for those would be evil doers. If it were yp to me, we would be going house to house if necessary.

    June 9, 2013 at 7:57 am | Reply
    • Killer O'Bama

      Well said, Eugene. Thank you for your support!

      June 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • Cindi

      You're exactly right Eugene. These young men like Snowden and Mannining seem to think that they know everything. They seem to think that they know what's best for America. With that being said, the both of them have become the biggest criminals of America ! Yes, absolutely, the government should make an example out them ! If the government doesn't, there will be plenty more of Snoeden's and Manning's to come........more traitor's !

      June 11, 2013 at 6:00 am | Reply
  6. John30303

    Sleep well George, the Stasi is on the job.
    You can be arrested – or simply disappeared – at any time for any of the 3 felons the average citizen unknowingly commits on a typical day, or for no reason at all. It's classified you know.

    June 9, 2013 at 4:05 am | Reply
  7. Random

    I think politicians need to stop blackmailing the other side of the isle using a game of classified chicken (risking our saftey to use sensitive info for political gain).

    June 9, 2013 at 2:09 am | Reply
  8. George Patton-2

    I am going to sleep well tonight knowing my government is not sleeping on the job, good job guys, keep watching bad guys, especially terrorists supporting muslim countries.

    June 9, 2013 at 12:12 am | Reply
    • Killer O'Bama

      Thanks a million, Phunnie boy and I mean it, too! We need more idiots like you to back me up in this obscene episode since we can't have all this opposition to my wars against Islam!

      June 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.