Everyone seems to be scrambling on this one, and more and more it looks like we should be suspicious of the reports by The Washington Post
and The Guardian
. Not only have most of the companies named in The Washington Post report about PRISM data collection
denied involvement in any government program; now, the Director of National Intelligence has come out to say the reports "contain numerous inaccuracies".
Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, released a statement saying that there were "numerous inaccuracies" in the reports. He then went on to review Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the reports cited as reasoning behind the data collection. Clapper finished off his statement as you might expect, by defending the data collection and trying to push blame on the reports.
Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.
So, while Clapper may have said there were "inaccuracies", he also seems to admit that the data collection is happening, and he has also said that he wants to make some of the program declassified in order to prove that everything possible is being done to protect civil liberties.
*Update* Clapper has clarified his statement in an interview with the National Journal, answering the question "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" by saying:
Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.