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Obama Administration Accused Of Using NSA To Spy On Americans' Internet Data

The government’s surveillance of U.S. citizens during the Obama administration included unlawful spying on individual Internet usage, the Daily Mail reported.

According to Circa, the National Security Agency targeted hundreds of people for the illegal searches following an Obama order that made it easier to conduct such surveillance. The Democratic administration’s intelligence agencies also allegedly increased the number of people they “unmasked” by publicly revealing their identities. The actions drew outrage from civil-liberties advocates, who argued that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment was under assault.

On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul blasted Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice. He said the official unmasked Americans who were incidentally surveilled during investigations of other people. She committed an “amazing abuse of power,” the Kentucky Republican told Fox News. Rice has denied the charge, explaining she requested the identities of some people only to better understand surveillance reports. She claims she never publicly exposed anyone. James Clapper, the CIA director in the Obama administration, confirmed Rice’s statements during his testimony to a Senate committee earlier this month.

A formerly classified government document released Wednesday indicated that 5 percent of all NSA searches of individuals’ Internet data after 2011 broke federal regulations, Circa reported. Obama’s team acknowledged at a closed-door court hearing in October that they had not followed the law, but did not provide the document until April. Circa pointed out that the former administration had a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

The document states: “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 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.”

The report shows a “shocking lack of oversight of these programs that has most likely continued in the Trump administration,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization’s legislative counsel, Neema Singh Guliani, told Circa: “I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have a culture of adherence to privacy standards.”

On April 28, the NSA pledged on its website to “no longer collect certain Internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target.” The NSA came under fire previously when government whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the agency was collecting the email and phone records of millions of Americans.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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