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Clapper declassifies more NSA documents after Obama speech

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FILE: Sept. 26, 2013: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

The director of Office of National Intelligence on Friday released hundreds more documents related to the United States’ surveillance program, within hours of President Obama announcing changes to the agency’s controversial data-collecting operations.

Agency Director James Clapper said the newly declassified and released documents are related to the start and approval of the bulk telephone-data-collection program, as reported first by The Washington Examiner.

He said in a letter announcing the released that roughly 2,300 related documents have been made public since June 2013 when the president asked him to begin the process.  

Obama made the decision after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden began disclosing details of the surveillance programs.

The documents can be found on the Office of the DNI's website.

Obama said Friday the NSA will need approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court every time it searches the cache of phone data, compare to the system now in which cleared NSA analysts have access to the phone records in an online archive that was started in 2006. That was under the Bush administration and when the court first approved the FBI's request to begin the bulk phone-records collection.

One of the newly-released documents, dated Aug. 18, 2006, reveals how the court approved a request from then-FBI Director Robert Mueller for “telephony meta data.”

The federal government was authorized to collect the data under the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“These documents were properly classified, and their declassification was not done lightly,” Clapper wrote.

The information released Friday includes FISA court opinions, documents provided to Congress and training slides.