Analysts are specifically warned that they "MUST NOT" provide the evidence on which they base their "reasonable articulable suspicion" that a target will produce valid foreign intelligence. They are also forbidden to disclose the "selectors," or search terms, they plan to use. In examples that draw on actual searches, the document shows how to strip out details and substitute generic descriptions.

A senior intelligence official said in an interview that this form provides only the "headline" and that the document should not be misread to suggest that the NSA is hiding anything from its outside auditors. Particulars are available on request, the official said, by supervisors at the Justice Department and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and those offices often delve deeply into the details. The official acknowledged that the details are not included in reports to Congress or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The Washington Post has redacted names and other identifiers from examples in the document that describe actual surveillance operations. Hide

GRAPHIC: Barton Gellman and Matt DeLong - The Washington Post. Published Aug. 15, 2013.