More leaks about the Obama administration’s secret cybersecurity plan leak on Tuesday
More than 200 classified documents have been leaked by a whistleblower to The Intercept, including a draft report by a top Obama administration official detailing how the Obama White House plans to use its vast network of government contractors to spy on Americans.
The Intercept said the documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a former contractor for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and include internal documents that outline the administration’s plan to “target” American citizens in the course of national security activities.
The documents are believed to be the most damaging leaks to date about the government’s plans to spy more on Americans in the wake of the presidential election.
In the draft report, dated June 25, a former DARPA official outlines the program’s goals.
He says that in the “near term,” it would target “largely unknown individuals” in the U.S. who have ties to foreign governments or have access to sensitive information.
The government is also planning to target “individuals with suspected ties to terrorist organizations.”
The NSA and CIA, he said, would then target individuals who have “knowledge of the identity and activities of foreign intelligence targets” in order to identify “high-value targets.”
“Our goal is to target individuals with suspected or known foreign intelligence ties to high-value U.K. targets,” he wrote.
“While we have never before targeted a person directly, we have established strong relationships with a number of foreign governments to carry out our target intelligence missions,” the document continued.
“While our primary targets will be people who are not directly involved in terrorist activity, we may also target individuals associated with terrorist groups who are in contact with or have ties with the U,K.”
The documents also reveal that the NSA and the CIA are working on a plan to use private contractors to do cyber operations.
The leaked documents outline the program as a way to “develop a network of cyber assets” that would allow the NSA to “assess the operational capacity of foreign cyber capabilities, and then determine how best to use those capabilities against those capabilities.”
The leaked documents are the latest in a series of documents that have emerged in recent months that show how the NSA plans to exploit Americans’ privacy in a way that violates the Constitution and the law.
Earlier this year, the Intercept published a series that revealed that the Obama Justice Department was secretly conducting warrantless wiretaps of Americans’ cell phones.
In June, the Justice Department issued a statement saying it “has not authorized, supported, or condoned” the collection of phone records, though it has acknowledged that the programs have been used to “access and store records of millions of Americans.”
In recent weeks, the NSA has been embroiled in a scandal over the extent of its surveillance of U.N. members and other groups in Geneva, Switzerland.
In recent weeks a number in the intelligence community has acknowledged they were aware of the program, which they said was not authorized by the Obama Administration.
The White House has defended the surveillance programs, saying they are necessary to protect Americans from foreign threats and keep the nation safe.
“Our country is safer today because of the strong partnerships that are working to counter threats like this one,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said on Tuesday.