Need another sign that the NSA's phone surveillance program is considered legal? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is happy to oblige. This week FISA renewed the agencies' authority to collect call metadata, echoing an October approval from the same court. That's actually standard -- the program needs to be reassessed every 90 days, but typically the authorizations fly under the radar. This time around, the Director of National Intelligence declassified the action "in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program."

Even so, its not giving detractors any ground: the announcement also reasserts the program's legality, citing the "holdings of the United States District Courts of the Southern District of New York and Southern District of California, as well as the findings of 15 judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 separate occasions over the last seven years." The statement at least closes on an amicable note, promising to be open to tweaking the program in ways that "achieve our counterterrorism mission in a manner that gives the American people greater confidence." Check out the full statement at the source link below.