The ACLU has uncovered memos that show that Obama violated specific civil liberty protections using the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI to spy on Americans,
The memos, which The Hill was able to review, were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the ACLU. They cover compliance with privacy rules between 2009 and 2016. Equivalent assessments of the Trump administration’s first year will not be prepared until next spring.
“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant. The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again,” said ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey.
The Hill reports:
The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.
The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.
They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn’t due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.
“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.
“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.
Other violations cited in the memos:
- Numerous “overcollection incidents” in which the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
- “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
- The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
- Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”
The Hill also quoted former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra. He was previously a supporter of the warrantless surveillance program. He stated that he might vote against it if he was in Congress today. “Contrary to agency assertions that a 1 percent violation rate is laudable,” Hoekstra said, “In my mind, one percent is pretty sloppy when it can impact Americans’ privacy.”
The NSA was also cited for acting too slowly to recall data that improperly exposed the names of American citizens. “The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days,” notes The Hill.
Another problem was that the NSA sometimes granted itself waivers from the rule requiring the immediate destruction of improperly intercepted communications. There is evidence these waivers were used improperly, and the offense was not speedily reported to the oversight court.
In other words…well,…we know… Obama was a crook.
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