The Obama administration was frequently accused of misconduct over his two terms in regard to abusing the privacy of Americans.
The ACLU has been investigating the intelligence communities’ actions under Obama’s administration to determine the extent of the abuse. They recently uncovered memos detailing the disturbing amount of spying conducted on Americans, and how very little was done about it. (via The Hill)
The American Civil Liberties Union is a grassroots organization that campaigns on a variety of civil rights issues. Commonly, they oppose the repression of free speech and seek to protect citizens’ right to privacy.
A Freedom of Information Act litigation was filed to uncover evidence of the Obama administration violating the privacy rights of Americans. The memos, released to the organization on July 11, detail numerous instances where those rights were violated under Obama.
Specifically, the memos tell of how the intelligence communities acquired vast amounts of intel on Americans as part of their investigation, but failed to keep that information private, via loopholes in Section 702.
Section 702 enables organizations like the NSA to keep some of the information they obtain on Americans while spying on foreign powers. While it does require that relevant information be kept protected and private, information obtained not relevant to their investigations is to be destroyed immediately.
The memos reveal that this doesn’t always happen.
It was discovered that the NSA was slow to inform other intelligence agencies when it incorrectly submitted details on Americans that should have been purged. While the notifications are supposed to occur within five days according to the law, some took more than 130 days before notification was sent, with the average being 19 days.
The memos also reveal a number of other violations, such as “overcollection incidents” where information on Americans was obtained that isn’t permitted, broad searches for information that go beyond the scope of investigations, and other abuses.
The ACLU was alarmed by its findings. Staff attorney for the ACLU, Patrick Toomey, said about the memos, “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.” (via The Hill)
Yet the NSA maintains there’s not a problem and that inconsistencies should be expected, according to Michael Halibig, NSA’s chief spokesman. “Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program.” (via The Hill)
The FBI also maintains there is no issue and wants to see Section 702 renewed by Congress in a few months, despite the apparent weaknesses in the law. “When Congress enacted Section 702, it built in comprehensive oversight and compliance procedures that involve all three branches of government. These procedures are robust and effective in identifying compliance incidents,” the FBI said in a statement to The Hill. (via The Hill)
Section 702 was abused under the Obama administration. Should Congress renew it this term?
Trump’s administration has been very critical of Obama’s abuse of Americans’ privacy and in late May issued subpoenas for records of the Obama administration’s crimes. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) said about what he uncovered in his probe of the Obama administration, “What I found was a treasure trove of stuff that’s really bad in terms of surveillance on Americans.” (via Fox News)
He berated Obama and his administration for their abuses of power, saying, “It’s really horrible because it endangers America, because the work that our intelligence professionals do is so critical to our safety, to have an administration, a past administration, abuse these powers and put our country in jeopardy, there’s nothing, there’s no words that can explain the damage they’ve done and the damage that they’ve created.” (via Fox News)
Obama and his administration need to be held accountable for their crimes against Americans, and the intelligence communities need to have all the corrupt holdovers weeded out in order to protect our privacy rights.