Despite the continuing shutdown of many federal agencies, the Intelligence Community of the United States, including the National Security Agency, is still conducting the business of protecting America's security.
Earlier today, in response to articles critical of the Intelligence Community and the NSA, the fourth Director of National Intelligence, former Air Force Lt. General James Robert Clapper, Jr. prepared an official statement for posting on IC on the Record. The statement discusses the tools our adversaries use, and then goes on to slam the leaked classified documents as "painting an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community."
The following statements contain Director Clapper's words only, edited simply for formatting.
Why the Intelligence Community Seeks to Understand Online Communication Tools & Technologies
Recently published news articles discuss the Intelligence Community's interest in tools used to facilitate anonymous online communication. The articles accurately point out that the Intelligence Community seeks to understand how these tools work and the kind of information being concealed.
However, the articles fail to make clear that the Intelligence Community's interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies.
The articles fail to mention that the Intelligence Community is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and that we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens.
Within our lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, we use every intelligence tool available to understand the intent of our foreign adversaries so that we can disrupt their plans and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans.
In the modern telecommunications era, our adversaries have the ability to hide their messages and discussions among those of innocent people around the world. They use the very same social networking sites, encryption tools and other security features that protect our daily online activities.
Americans depend on the Intelligence Community to know who and what the threats are, and where they come from. They want us to provide policy makers with the information necessary to keep our nation safe, and they rightfully want us to do this without compromising respect for the civil liberties and privacy of our citizens.
Many of the recent articles based on leaked classified documents have painted an inaccurate and misleading picture of the Intelligence Community. The reality is that the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe.
James R. Clapper
Director of National Intelligence