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Archive Electronic Briefing Book Informs Current Debate Over NSA Eavesdropping on U.S. Citizens


National Security Archive Update, December 19, 2005



Washington D.C., December 19, 2005 – In the wake of revelations that the Bush administration authorized the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens in 2002, the National Security Archive today reposted its “National Security Agency Declassified” electronic briefing book, first published in January 2000 and updated as recently as this year.

President Bush’s recent admission that he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on U.S. persons without obtaining a warrant has focused the nation’s attention on the authorities and regulations governing this sensitive issue. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) specifically prohibits domestic surveillance by the NSA, the nation’s largest intelligence agency, unless it gets permission to do so from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Specific guidance for adhering to FISA policies is spelled out in United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, the most recent known version of which was issued by the NSA director in July 1993. The directive “prescribes policies and procedures and assigns responsibilities to ensure that the missions and functions of the United States SIGINT System (USSS) are conducted in a manner that safeguards the constitutional rights of U.S. persons.”

Also included in “The National Security Agency Declassified” are warnings given by the NSA to the incoming Bush administration in January 2001 that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the NSA in compliance with the Constitution’s 4th Amendment prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures” without warrant and “probable cause.”



THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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