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FISA Court Condemns Obama Administration Illegal Spying on Americans

May 27, 2017 (EIRNS)—A recently declassified April 26, 2017 ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court declared that the Obama Administration intelligence agencies’ practice of collecting and searching intercepted communications created, "a very serious Fourth Amendment issue" and that the failure to disclose these violations demonstrated an "institutional lack of candor."

Not surprisingly, this shocking revelation about the Obama Administration’s illegal spying has gotten little attention in the news media, compared to the histrionics about the so-called Trump Russia connection. In fact, the FISC ruling shows that former FBI Director Comey lied to Congress about this in the famous hearing that preceded his firing, showing that President Trump was absolutely justified not only in firing Comey, but in calling him a "nut-job."

The issue in the FISC ruling concerns the collection of "upstream" data by the NSA, which is data collected from the internet backbone, not individual service providers. This data inevitably sweeps up huge amounts of data that is then stored, and later searched, by the NSA, FBI, CIA etc. The court estimated that 1 in 20 Americans have been spied on in this way.

In 2011, the court set guidelines for how these data can be searched and for the minimization of unmasking of U.S. persons. But, also at that time, Obama relaxed the rules concerning surveillance and unmasking of U.S. citizens. Since that time there has been a threefold increase in the searching and unmasking of U.S. citizens under Obama.

According to the court ruling, on October 26, 2016, Obama intelligence officials admitted to the court that the administration had been violating the 2011 guidelines.

"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 court ruling states:

"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."