Thursday, July 27, 2017

Spy Sweepers

Remember when Obama promised transparency?
The memos, which The Hill was able to review, were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the ACLU. They cover compliance with privacy rules between 2009 and 2016. Equivalent assessments of the Trump administration’s first year will not be prepared until next spring.

NSA spokesman Michael Halbig is quoted arguing that the 90-plus incidents documented by the memos represent a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of phones and email addresses monitored under the FISA Section 702 warrantless surveillance program – an argument that may not be all that comforting to privacy advocates. Halbig also said the violations described by the memos are proof that the NSA’s compliance program is working.

Representatives of several agencies echoed Halbig’s point that the compliance system and its strict reporting requirements are helping the government to constantly improve its performance and insisted the oversight system deserves credit for detecting and addressing the incidents described in 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,” countered ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey.
During the Obama era, some rules were meant to be weakened...

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