February 12, 2014
On Jan. 3, 2014, the Director of National Intelligence declassified and disclosed publicly that the U.S. government had filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that, on Jan. 3, 2014, the court renewed that authority. The Director of National Intelligence also announced that the Administration was undertaking a declassification review of the court’s Jan. 3 primary order.
During his speech on Jan. 17, 2014, President Obama ordered a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it currently exists, and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities this country needs without the U.S. Government holding this bulk data.
As a first step in that transition, the President directed the Department of Justice to work with the FISC to ensure that, absent a true emergency, the telephony metadata can only be queried after a judicial finding that there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the selection term is associated with an approved international terrorist organization. The President also directed that the query results must be limited to metadata within two hops of the selection term instead of three. As previously announced on Feb. 6, 2014, to put these two changes into effect, the Department of Justice filed a motion with the FISC to amend its Jan. 3, 2014, primary order that renewed the authority to collect telephony metadata under Section 215. On Feb. 5, 2014, the FISC granted the motion.
Following a declassification review by the Executive Branch, today the FISC released in redacted form the previously classified Jan. 3, 2014, primary order, signed by Judge Thomas Hogan, re-authorizing the collection of bulk telephony metadata under Section 215. The order re-affirms that the bulk telephony metadata collection is lawful. The authorization expires on Mar. 28, 2014. The FISC also released in redacted form the U.S. Government’s previously classified motion to amend the Jan. 3, 2014, primary order, as well as the previously classified Feb. 5, 2014, order granting that motion, signed by Judge Reggie Walton.
The motion and two orders are available at the FISC’s website, www.uscourts.gov; the website of the Department of Justice, www.justice.gov; the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, www.dni.gov; and ODNI’s public website dedicated to fostering greater public visibility into the intelligence activities of the Government, ICOntheRecord.tumblr.com.
Motion to Amend Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Primary Order, Docket No. BR 14-01 (Feb. 5, 2014) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Order Granting Motion to Amend, Docket No. BR 14-01 (Feb. 5, 2014)