You won’t read about this in what passes for the “mainstream” media, but newly declassified documents reveal that the Obama administration was violating its own rules and spying on Americans with such frequency that even the normally compliant FISA court scolded them:
“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.”
Was this covered by the New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” or the Washington Post, which has adopted the slogan “democracy dies in the dark”? Of course not. They’re too busy reporting on leaks of classified information from their Deep State sources, some of which is no doubt the product of this illegal spying.
I count less than half a dozen stories about this, all of them in conservative outlets like Fox News and Breitbart, The “liberal” media isn’t interested for the simple reason that they don’t want to interfere with the very process that provides them with so many “scoops.”
In 2011, the Obama administration loosened the rules whereby intelligence agencies could share information on US citizens – which we now know was illegally obtained and shared with other agencies by the National Security Agency. That same year, the FISA court enjoined the administration to put into practice minimization procedures that would protect the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans – but that didn’t happen. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in defending her unmasking of Mike Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials, said it was all perfectly legal — except it wasn’t. We’re now learning that, two weeks before election day, the FISA court rebuked the administration, saying:
“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702. The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”
The FISA court is notoriously uncritical of government spying, but even they responded to this latest revelation by condemning the “institutional lack of candor” that permeates the NSA and the entire national security bureaucracy. Their actions, said the court, are a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”
If you want to know how and why the media is reporting leaks designed to damage the Trump administration by tying it to Russia, Judge Andrew Napolitano put it succinctly and well:
“There is a linear connection between excessive acquisition of data by the intelligence community, distribution of that raw data to people who do not need to know it, availability of unmasking, which is producing the real true names of the human beings whose emails, texts, and phone calls were the subjects of all this, and then ultimately the select revelation of those names.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was one of the few politicians to take note of this important development. Appearing on Fox News, he accused the Obama administration of flouting the law in order to identify and spy on a record number of Americans: the unmasking involved “hundreds and hundreds of people,” he said. “If we determine this to be true, this is an enormous abuse of power. This will dwarf all other stories.”
As to that last, perhaps the Senator is engaging in wishful thinking: for the news media maintains a symbiotic relationship with our out-of-control intelligence agencies. The American Civil Liberties Union characterized the new revelations as “some of the most serious to ever be documented,” and yet the “mainstream” media isn’t even reporting this, let alone underscoring its importance.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – which gives the NSA and other intelligence agencies wide berth to “accidentally” spy on Americans – is up for renewal soon, and the Spook Lobby is already going into high gear to make sure this loophole stays intact. The media’s silence over the FISA court’s rebuke of the Obama administration is part of this campaign,
For all intents and purposes, we are effectively living in a police state, and Section 702 is a key brick in the wall that protects government spies as they routinely violate the Constitution. Since our “liberals” have now aligned themselves with the Deep State in an effort to overthrow a sitting President, it is left to those few principled conservatives and – of course – to libertarians to lead the fight to restore the rule of law. For what we are facing is nothing less than a lawless State, a rogue “intelligence community” that recognizes no limits on its power. We gave them that power when we surrendered our liberties in the name of “security” – and now the fight to take back our liberty and our country requires a head-on collision with these “public servants” who have forgotten – or never knew – whom they are supposed to be serving.
No, you can’t depend on the “mainstream” media to report news that the Deep State doesn’t’ want you to know about. That’s why Antiwar.com is more essential than ever – but we can’t continue to do our job without your financial support. We need your tax-deductible donation to keep going – and now is the time to make your contribution.
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NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.