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The White House, Executive Order 12333: United States Intelligence Activities, 40 Fed. Reg. 59,941 (Dec. 4, 1981) (full-text), as amended by Executive Order 13284, 68 Fed. Reg. 4,077 (Jan. 23, 2003), and by Executive Order 13355, and further amended by Executive Order 13470, 73 Fed. Reg. 45,328 (2008) (full-text, as amended) (July 30, 2008).


This Executive Order was intended to regulate national intelligence activities. Part I of the Order outlines the goals and responsibilities of major federal agencies and departments involved with national security and intelligence gathering. Part II created regulations for the collection of intelligence information.

The Order delineates the authorized roles and responsibilities of the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. Intelligence Community, and each Department and Agency comprising an element of the Intelligence Community. The Order also directs that the Heads of all Executive Branch Departments and Agencies shall coordinate and collaborate with the DNI to address national intelligence requirements and provide the DNI access, as appropriate, to all information and intelligence relevant to the national security in accordance with guidelines to be approved by the Attorney General.

Under Section 1.7, heads of departments and agencies with organizations in the Intelligence Community (or the heads of such organizations, if appropriate) must report possible violations of federal criminal laws to the Attorney General "in a manner consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods."

Under Section 2.3, intelligence agencies can only collect, retain, and disseminate information about a "US person" (US citizens and lawful permanent residents) if permitted by applicable law, if the information fits within one of the enumerated categories under the Executive Order, and if it is permitted under that agency’s implementing guidelines approved by the Attorney General.

This Executive Order requires compliance with all applicable information sharing, security, privacy, and other legal guidelines.


The Order states, in pertinent part:

The United States Government has a solemn obligation, and shall continue in the conduct of intelligence activities under this order, to protect fully the legal rights of all United States persons, including freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by Federal law.


The order was amended by Executive Order 13284 on January 23, 2003, and by Executive Order 13355, on August 27, 2004. On July 30, 2008, President Bush issued Executive Order 13470 amending Executive Order 12333 to strengthen the role of the DNI.