Moving to minimize damage from the NSA PRISM leaks, a senior administration official has revealed to The New York Times that select members of Congress were privy to 13 briefings since 2009 on the government's ability to widely collect digital information. While the disclosure is meant to assuage concerns of loose congressional oversight, those briefed were reportedly told only vague and broad details about the government's capabilities. A variety of government officials led the briefing, sometimes including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the director of the NSA, and the head of US Cyber Command.
Clapper's office is also trying to elaborate upon congressional oversight today. Earlier this afternoon it released a document containing newly declassified information on PRISM, including details on some of the checks and balances that govern it. According to the document, Congress receives "exhaustive" semiannual reports on how well the surveillance programs avoid targeting US citizens. And altogether, Clapper's office says that Congress receives "an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency" on those programs.