New shoes continue to drop on the intelligence community with each passing day
While the worries that stem from the revelation that the Obama administration was routinely “unmasking” innocent American citizens had already created a major problem for our intelligence community, over the last few days those concerns have multiplied. Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) had already argued that Congress could not reauthorize the surveillance programs being used until the unmasking scandal had been cleared up, and now we have a whole new host of scandals dealing with the same subject: intelligence agency overreach and criminality.
Two days ago we learned that the Obama administration had been lying for years about their surveillance programs and that they only admitted their malfeasance as President Obama’s tenure was coming to an end.
The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.
More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.
The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.
In 2011 the Obama administration had promised to enact reforms that would have protected innocent Americans from these Constitutional violations, and for 5 long years they lied to the people who were supposed to be overseeing the process, and it wasn’t until days before the 2016 election that they finally admitted that they’d been breaking the law all along.
Then yesterday, Fox News and Circa reported that newly revealed documents showed that the NSA had also been systematically violating the rights of thousands of American citizens.
Declassified documents first obtained by the news outlet Circa show the FISA court sharply rebuked the Obama administration. ‘With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the court, NSA analysts had used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet “upstream” collection, even though NSA’s section 702 minimalization procedures prohibited such queries.’
Minimization refers to the precautions the government is supposed to take to ensure that its infringement on the rights of citizens is at a minimum. Judges blasted NSA’s institutional lack of candor and added: ‘This is a very serious 4th Amendment issue.’
It seems that everyone in the Obama administration just decided that they were above the law and could do whatever they pleased, whenever they pleased. The entire Obama era was simply one long string of lawbreaking and trampling of the Constitution. Sadly, the criminal Obama team wasn’t wrong. They could do whatever they wanted, consequences be damned… because there were no consequences. Even now, knowing what we know, no Obama era official is being threatened with prosecution. No criminal government agent who wrongfully violated the 4th Amendment rights of an American citizen is being charged with a crime. They are getting away with it, just like they knew they would.
And we’re continuing to learn about new crimes everyday. In fact, while the last few days have focused on the crimes of the Obama team and the NSA, today Circa has a new story exposing the criminal behavior at the FBI. The FBI that was being run by James Comey. The FBI that Comey told us was being very careful with our 4th Amendment rights and was taking every precaution not to spy on innocent Americans. Comey swore during Congressional hearing after Congressional hearing that the FBI held our rights as paramount and would never do anything to violate the trust the American people have with them.
Well, he either lied or he had no idea what was going on under his own nose. Circa reports:
The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.
In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”
Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party…
But by early 2017, the court became more concerned after the Obama administration disclosed significant violations of privacy protections at two separate intelligence agencies involved in the Section 702 program.
The most serious involved the NSA searching for American data it was forbidden to search. But the FBI also was forced to admit its agents and analysts shared espionage data with prohibited third parties, ranging from a federal contractor to a private entity that did not have the legal right to see the intelligence.
Such third-party sharing is a huge political concern now as Congress and intelligence community leaders try to stop the flow of classified information to parties that could illegally disclose or misuse it, such as the recent leak that disclosed intercepted communications between the Russian ambassador and Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn…
“Improper access” to NSA spy data for FBI contractors “seems to have been the result of deliberate decision-making,” the court noted.
The recently unsealed ruling also revealed the FBI is investigating more cases of possible improper sharing with private parties that recently have come to light.
The government “is investigating whether there have been similar cases in which the FBI improperly afforded non-FBI personnel access to raw FISA-acquired information on FBI systems,” the court warned.
If you’re keeping count, that means that over the last week or so we’ve learned that the Obama administration, the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI have all been consistently committing criminal acts and violating the rights of innocent American citizens. These are the same people who stand up and swear to uphold our Constitution and our laws with one breath, all while promising us, under oath, that they’ve never violated any of our laws… and we’re supposed to believe them when they tell us that the Trump administration is the enemy?
Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?
Republished with permission Constitution.com
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Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Liberty Alliance media group. He’s also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.