In 2013, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper created a cloud-computer platform that made it easier for National Security Adviser Susan Rice to unmask American citizens without leaving a paper trail.
According to officials who tracked Clapper’s cloud-computing initiative, the system allowed tens of thousands of government officials to share sensitive information.
Section 702 of the US Patriot Act allows the NSA to collect phone records of American citizens speaking with foreign officials and to eavesdrop on innocent citizens who happen to get swept up in such conversations. This controversial surveillance tactic is referred to as “about” collection, and civil liberties advocates believe it may result in the NSA reading emails between Americans without a warrant.
There has been a 19% increase in the number of US citizens targeted under Section 702 since Clapper’s system went into effect.
Before Clapper’s reforms, access to phone records was granted only after a rigorous review by the NSA.
“After the technology had changed and the workplace policies had changed, basically that access was based on ‘user permissions’ that would allow you to look into the database itself,” said naval intelligence officer Jennifer Dyer. “You didn’t have to ask anyone at NSA to retrieve the information.”
Clapper’s reforms drastically lowered the security standards for sharing CIA and NSA intelligence data and gave more people access to raw data. Clapper justified his intelligence reforms in the name of improving information-sharing among intelligence officials and breaking down the walls between agencies.
In January 2017, just before Obama left office, his administration finalized new rules that allowed the NSA to share information it obtained through its international surveillance apparatus with 16 other agencies.
The number of intelligence community employees who share information jumped from 9,000 in 2014 to more than 50,000 today.
“Seventeen different agencies shouldn’t be sifting through American’s emails without ever obtaining a warrant,” complains ACLU staff attorney Ashley Gorski. “The standard for unmasking someone’s identity in these intercepted communications is a low one, and the risk of abuse is real.”
Earlier this year, newly-appointed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s name was unmasked and leaked to the media. He was fired for allegedly misleading VP Mike Pence about a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“The Obama administration set up the intelligence agencies in such a way that it enabled a crime spree of spying and leaking,” reports The Gateway Pundit. “It has become one huge minefield for the Trump Administration.”
There is far more evidence that Obama unlawfully spied on Trump and members of his team than there is evidence that Russia meddled in the US election or cooperated with the Trump campaign. But instead of reporting on Obama’s shockingly corrupt administration, the liberal media is focused on fake allegations aimed to take down a president they don’t like.
But here’s some good news: as reported by The Daily Beast last month, the NSA will soon stop using the “about” surveillance method – because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) decided it couldn’t do so without infringing on Americans’ rights.
“The NSA has secretly spied on Americans’ internet communications for years, continuously searching through the contents of emails and web-browsing activities in bulk,” argues ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey.
“This kind of warrant-free, suspicion-free surveillance is exactly what the 4th Amendment prohibits. Putting an end to this spying is an important step, but it is only a start to the broader reforms of Section 702 that are badly needed to safeguard Americans’ privacy.”
Editor’s note: The Obama administration was no friend to privacy rights. I’m not sure how the Trump admin will handle this issue, but it really could not be worse.