Ever since President Trump tweeted out that he was being ‘wiretapped’ by Obama, more and more information about his administration’s surveillance habits are surfacing. A new report says Congressional figures were unmasked as regularly as once a month.
National security reporter Sara Carter reports that US spy agencies intercept and unmask congressional figures as often as once a month.
The U.S. government’s foreign surveillance sweeps up American lawmakers and their staffers so routinely now that Congress is alerted as often as once a month that its employees involved in intercepted conversations have been unmasked and their identities shared with intelligence or law enforcement agencies, Circa has learned.
Often though, the affected lawmakers or congressional aides aren’t told about the unmasking, unless it involves a security or hacking threat. So some affected lawmakers may not know about their appearance in unredacted executive branch intelligence reports, according to intelligence community sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The notifications are just one of many growing signs that what once was considered a rare event inside the intelligence community — the unmasking of a conversation involving Americans captured overseas by the National Security Agency or the FBI under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — is now becoming more widespread after President Obama lowered the thresholds and privacy protections for such sharing starting in 2011.
The NSA is authorized to spy on foreign powers without a court warrant under Section 702 of the FISA law.
But the agency is legally prohibited from targeting Americans when spying overseas. And when an American is accidentally intercepted talking to the agent of a foreign power or when two foreigners are captured talking about an American, NSA is supposed to protect that U.S. person’s privacy by redacting the identity. Such intercepts are known as incidental collections and the redactions are known as minimization.
Read the rest of Sara Carter’s report and listen to her report on this story here.