"In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect. While NSA analysts examine only a very small percentage of the world's traffic, if communications of US persons are incidentally collected the agency must follow minimization procedures that are approved by the US Attorney General and designed to protect the privacy of US persons," the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday.
"Specifically, these procedures require NSA to minimize the acquisition processing, retention and dissemination of information of or concerning US persons," he said adding that the purpose of the program is to investigate and potentially prevent terrorist threats emanating from foreign sources.
Carney said that when an American national sends an email overseas, it is not being read. The NSA program he said focused entirely on foreign terrorist threats, and information that is tracked is related solely to that.
The White House Press Secretary was responding to a question on The New York Times report that the NSA had been "searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' emails and text communications" without a warrant.


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