A newly declassified Justice Department report shows that the FBI has had a leading role in the NSA's email surveillance program.

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The 231-page report, obtained by the New York Times, explains that "in 2008... the F.B.I. assumed the power to review email accounts the N.S.A. wanted to collect through the "Prism" system." It also developed the protocols that were used to ensure that the email accounts that were targeted didn't belong to U.S. citizens.

Then, in 2009, the FBI began to gather "copies of unprocessed communications gathered without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes." And in 2012, it began adding new email accounts and phone numbers to the NSA's data collection program for its own use.

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It's worth noting that, in the report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz writes that the FBI was actually "doing a good job in making sure that the email accounts targeted for warrantless collection belonged to non-citizens abroad." So that's something.

The report does go some way in shedding light on the rather murky details of who was in charge of what when it came to the NSA's surveillance. But only some way: this report is heavily redacted, so there's much left undisclosed. Maybe some day, we'll understand the whole picture. Maybe. [NYT via Verge]