The National Security Archive
The George Washington University
Gelman Library, Suite 701
2130 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: 202/994-7000
Fax: 202/994-7005

October 6, 2000
For more information contact: 
Jeffrey Richelson 202/994-7000 
Michael Evans 202/994-7029
Archive Publishes Secret Directive Governing
Interception of Communications Involving U.S. Persons
Jump to the Documents

On Friday, October 6, the National Security Archive at The George Washington University published a newly declassified United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID).  This version of USSID 18, issued in July 1993, currently governs the National Security Agency’s interception of communications involving U.S. persons.  Until publication of the directive, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act on September 20, 2000, the only version of USSID 18 available to the public dated back to 1980.

    With an annual budget of approximately $3.5 billion, the National Security Agency oversees the interception, processing, storage and dissemination of foreign radio, wire and other electromagnetic communications for intelligence purposes.  The document specifies the circumstances under which the agency may intercept, process, retain and disseminate information pertaining to U.S. citizens, resident aliens and U.S. corporations.

    The document is available as part of an updated Archive “Electronic Briefing Book” by Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson, entitled, “The National Security Agency Declassified: History, Organization and Operations,” and is available here:

    Dr. Richelson is a Senior Fellow with the Archive and has been the director of Archive documentation projects on the U.S. Intelligence Community, U.S.-China relations, U.S. military activities in space, and presidential directives on national security.  He is also the author of a number of books, including America's Space Sentinels: DSP Satellites and National Security (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999), The U.S. Intelligence Community (Boulder: Westview Press, 4th ed., 1999), A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), and America's Secret Eyes in Space: The US KEYHOLE Spy Satellite Program (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), among other publications.


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