(By Alex Diaz) The secret court that oversees government snooping took the Obama administration to task late last year, suggesting it created “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue” by violating rules the government itself had implemented regarding the surveillance of Americans.
According to top-secret documents made public by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – often referred to as the FISA court – the government admitted that, just days before the 2016 election, NSA analysts were violating surveillance rules on a regular basis. This pattern of overreach, coupled with the timing of the government’s disclosure, resulted in an unusually harsh rebuke of the administration’s practices and principles.
A former CBS journalist suing the federal government for allegedly spying on her said the documents prove the illegal snooping was pervasive and widely abused.
“Sources of mine have indicated that political players have increasingly devised premises to gather intel on political targets by wrapping them up in ‘incidental’ collection of foreigners, as if by accident,” Sharyl Attkisson, who is pursuing a federal lawsuit the Department of Justice has tried to dismiss, told the Fox News Investigative Unit.
According to the FISA Court opinion, it was on September 26, 2016 that the government submitted an undisclosed number of “certifications” for the court to review. The review process was supposed to be completed within 30 days, or by October 26, 2016.
Just two days before that review was to be completed – and less than two weeks before the 2016 election – the government informed the court that NSA analysts had been violating rules, established in 2011, designed to protect the internet communications of Americans.
The NSA has suggested these were “inadvertent compliance lapses,” and points out that the agency “self-reported” these problems, meaning they were the ones to bring this issue to the attention of the court.