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Most NSA collection data authorized by Reagan-backed exective order

A computer workstation bears the Nationa

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

A computer workstation bears the National Security Agency (NSA) logo inside the Threat Operations Center inside the Washington suburb of Fort Meade, Maryland, intelligence gathering operation 25 January 2006 after US President George W. Bush delivered a speech behind closed doors and met with employees in advance of Senate hearings on the much-criticized domestic surveillance.

The terms PRISM, FISA and metadata have become familiar in the debate over NSA surveillance of global communications. But there is another cryptic-sounding expression to add to the list: twelve-triple-three, or 12333. 

It's an executive order put in place before 9-11, before cell phones and before the internet came into use. And unlike those other surveillance programs, this one isn't overseen by Congress or the courts.

Ali Watkins, who wrote about Executive Order twelve-triple-three for McClatchy newspapers, joins the show with more. 

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