When former President Donald Trump accused the Obama administration of spying on him, the establishment called it a conspiracy theory. They still do, despite the fact that in a 2018 New York Times story, the FBI admitted spying on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Yup: Trump was pretty much right. As The Federalist’s Sean Davis noted at the time, “The most amazing aspect about this [New York Times] article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.”
While many were shocked to see a political leader like Trump targeted by the feds for invasive spying, it shouldn’t have been that surprising. We have known that the federal government has been mass surveilling Americans ever since National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013.
What has changed since then? Not much. CNN reported on Tuesday, “NSA watchdog finds ‘concerns’ with searches of Americans’ communications.”
An NSA watchdog has found the agency failed to follow both court-approved and internal procedures designed to prevent officials from using a controversial foreign surveillance law to inappropriately monitor Americans' communications https://t.co/QNFiNzCnC2
— CNN (@CNN) February 1, 2022
What are these concerns?
“The National Security Agency failed to follow both court-approved and internal procedures designed to prevent officials from using a controversial foreign surveillance law to inappropriately monitor Americans’ communications, the NSA inspector general found in a semi-annual report released on Monday,” CNN reported.
“Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the US government to collect communications, such as emails and phone records, of foreigners on foreign soil without warrants,” the reporting continues. “But while it broadly prohibits the intelligence community and law enforcement from targeting US persons, there is a loophole that allows the NSA and the CIA to query 702-gathered information for Americans’ records if ‘a query is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information.”
“Still, those searches are governed by a set of internal rules and procedures designed to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties,” CNN noted. “The inspector general ‘revealed a number of concerns involving [U.S. person] identifiers used as query terms against FISA Section 702 data,’ according to the report.”
It should be noted that in the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment protects all Americans against illegal searches and seizures. Perhaps the NSA should spy on the U.S. Constitution for a bit.
In 2020, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the mass surveillance program Snowden revealed was illegal. From Reuters, “Seven years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, an appeals court has found the program was unlawful—and that the U.S. intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.”
That’s right: The people in our government are criminals by the standards of our own government, yet it is Snowden who they treat as a criminal and themselves as heroic protectors of us.
Wrap your head around that one.
Edward Snowden tweeted the CNN report on Tuesday, adding:
This has happened year after year since the program began. https://t.co/JLepOfIvM4
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 1, 2022
Yes it has. Don’t expect it to end, either, until we get louder about it.