The National Security Agency (NSA) declassified details of the program PRISM on Saturday, and hit back at media reports it says were released "recklessly" and "out of context."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said "PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program," responding to reports leaked this week that the NSA was obtaining internet usage data from 9 different Internet service providers, including Apple and Google.
Clapper said, "Over the last week, we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe. In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context - including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government - to these effective tools."
In addition to PRISM, several media outlets reported the FBI and NSA regularly obtain phone records from Verizon, but Clapper insisted they Government is not listening to conversations and is only obtaining data. President Obama defended the program and said, "No one is listening to your telephone conversations."
Clapper said that both programs, PRISM and the gathering of cell phone data, were extensively reviewed by all three branches of government, and that the government cannot intentionally target any U.S. citizen for surveillance using PRISM.