Obama Admin. Illegally Spied on Americans, Court Docs Reveal; MSM Silent

Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington January 17, 2014. |

Despite the fact that a report released Wednesday unearthed how the National Security Agency under President Barack Obama routinely violated the privacy rights of Americans, the three major left-leaning broadcast news networks neglected to shed light on the issue during their evening broadcasts.

According to a Circa News report, previously top-secret documents have revealed that Obama's NSA engaged in "some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community."

Circa reports that the documents show that over 5 percent of searches seeking upstream internet data on the NSA's section 702 database "violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011."

It wasn't until Oct. 26 of last year, just two weeks before President Donald Trump was elected, that the Obama administration disclosed the violation issue at a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court hearing.

According to court documents dated April 26, 2017, the court scolded administration officials, telling them that their failure to disclose these violations showed an "institutional lack of candor." The court also considered it a "very serious Fourth Amendment issue."

Even though former National Security Adviser Susan Rice tried to reason that the activities were lawful because of minimization rule changes made by Obama, the court found Rice's claim to be wrong.

"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 unsealed court ruling declared. "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 violations were so severe that even the left-leaning American Civil Liberties expressed concern.

"I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs," Circa quoted ACLU's legislative counsel, Neema Singh Guliani, as saying. "You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices."

"I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have culture of adherence to privacy standards," she continued. "And the headline now is they actually haven't been in compliance for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor."

Despite the fact that revelation drew concern from the ACLU, which tends to be liberal on most issues, the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog pointed out that neither ABC, CBS or NBC covered the news on their evening programs.

The MRC piece praised Fox News' Bret Baier for covering the issue near the top of his "Special Report" program.

"On the day President Obama visited Los Angeles last October to yuk it up with Jimmy Kimmel, lawyers for the National Security Agency were quietly informing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that NSA had systematically violated the rights of countless Americans," Fox's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen said on the program.

"Declassified documents, first obtained by the news site Circa, show the FISA court sharply rebuked the administration," Rosen added.

Rosen quoted a section of the court's opinion: "'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 minimization procedures prohibited such queries.'"

In a April 28 statement, the NSA announced that it suspended the type of searches responsible for violating the section 702 rules and also deleted data on Americans that was collected previously.

"NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target," the statement reads. "Instead, NSA will limit such collection to internet communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target."

"Even though NSA does not have the ability at this time to stop collecting 'about' information without losing some other important data, the Agency will stop the practice to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target," the statement continued.

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