Secrecy News

Interim IG Report on Surveillance Program Released

When Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year, it enacted a requirement that the Inspectors General of agencies that participated in the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program must prepare a comprehensive review of that program, which was conducted from 2001 to 2007 outside of the FISA legal framework that normally regulates intelligence surveillance.

The final report of the Inspectors General, due in July 2009, is supposed to address “all of the facts necessary to describe the establishment, implementation, product, and use of the product of the Program,” among other things.  It “will include both unclassified and classified volumes.”

An interim report, completed last fall, has just been released.  The three-page letter report does not present any new findings, but rather lays out the scope of the ongoing review and the division of labor among five agency Inspectors General.

The subject matter of the review ranges widely from legal assessments of the Program (DoJ) to its technical operation (NSA) to communications with private-sector entities concerning the Program (ODNI) to the involvement of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (DoD) and the threat assessments supporting reauthorization of the Program (CIA).

Furthermore, “Each of the IG teams will be alert to other matters … that should be examined as part of a comprehensive review of the Program,” the interim report states.

The newly disclosed interim report was originally submitted to Congress in classified form last September.  An unclassified version of the report (which entailed the removal of one sentence) was prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee in November.  But the unclassified report, dated November 24, 2008, was only approved for public release this week, in response to a request from Secrecy News.

0 thoughts on “Interim IG Report on Surveillance Program Released

  1. And yours was the only organization who asked for this? I’m not being critical – of you, in any way.

    But what the hell have all those professional reporters on staff with “news organizations” been up to, anyway?

  2. Given the due date for the final report, would you expect the new Obama administration standard for classification to apply to that? Reading this unclassfied version of the interim report is like trying to decipher a map written with a pencil on rice paper in a rainstorm.

  3. Not everybody can or should report on everything. (For that reason, among others, readers should not rely on a single news source.) News organizations will undoubtedly cover the final Inspector General report this coming summer. If you haven’t noticed, most news outlets are in distress from shrinking revenues and subscriber bases.

    So far, there is no “new Obama administration standard for classification.” A policy change was announced in March to promote greater discretionary disclosure in response to Freedom of Information Act requests — but it does not mean that classified information will be released. Nor have the standards for classification been modified. That is yet to come.

  4. I put together a collection of widely scattered .pdf’s on this subject from December 2005 through Summer 2006, and converted them to .html files with links to citations. The collection includes Congressional Testimony, Position Papers, Issues Briefings, News articles, and CRS Reports. There are many links to cited Supreme Court Decisions as well.

    The collection is downloadable, and only uses relative (i.e. filename only) links, so it is not necessary to be online to use it.

    You can browse and download the collection here:

    I hope You find this useful.

    – dcm

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