President Obama Sought NSA Intel On 1000s Of Americans During The 2016 Election

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by John Solomon via,

During his final year in office, President Obama's team significantly expanded efforts to search National Security Agency intercepts for information about Americans, distributing thousands of intelligence reports across government with the unredacted names of U.S. residents in the midst of a divisive 2016 presidential election.

The data, made available this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the clearest evidence to date of how information accidentally collected by the NSA overseas about Americans was subsequently searched and disseminated after President Obama loosened privacy protections to make such sharing easier in 2011 in the name of national security. A court affirmed his order.

The revelations are particularly sensitive since the NSA is legally forbidden from directly spying on Americans and its authority to conduct warrantless searches on foreigners is up for renewal in Congress later this year. And it comes as lawmakers investigate President Trump's own claims that his privacy was violated by his predecessor during the 2016 election.

In all, government officials conducted 30,355 searches in 2016 seeking information about Americans in NSA intercept metadata, which include telephone numbers and email addresses. The activity amounted to a 27.5 percent increase over the prior year and more than triple the 9,500 such searches that occurred in 2013, the first year such data was kept.

The government in 2016 also scoured the actual contents of NSA intercepted calls and emails for 5,288 Americans, an increase of 13 percent over the prior year and a massive spike from the 198 names searched in 2013.

The searches ultimately resulted in 3,134 NSA intelligence reports with unredacted U.S. names being distributed across government in 2016, and another 3,354 reports in 2015. About half the time, U.S. identities were unredacted in the original reports while the other half were unmasked after the fact by special request of Obama administration officials.

Among those whose names were unmasked in 2016 or early 2017 were campaign or transition associates of President Trump as well as members of Congress and their staffers, according to sources with direct knowledge.

The data kept by ODNI is missing some information from one of the largest consumers of NSA intelligence, the FBI, and officials acknowledge the numbers are likely much higher when the FBI’s activity is added.

"There is no doubt that there was a spike in the requests to search for Americans in the NSA database,” a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the data.


“It’s simply easier for people to make requests. And while we have safeguards, there is always concern and vigilance about possible political or prurient motives that go beyond national security concerns.”

A top lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has long raised concerns about the NSA’s ability to spy on Americans, said the rise in searches is a troubling pattern that should concern members of both political parties because it has occurred with little oversight from the courts or Congress.

“I think it is alarming. There seems to be a universal trend toward more surveillance and more surveillance that impacts Americans’ privacy without obtaining a warrant,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel.


“This data confirms that there is a lack of acknowledgment that information is being specifically and increasingly mined about Americans for investigations that have little or nothing to do with international terrorism,” she added.

The ACLU’s concerns were heightened by the release last month of apreviously classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court document that revealed that then NSA has a “potentially very large and broad" collection of data on U.S persons that was never intended under the law.

U.S. intelligence officials confirmed the growth in queries about Americans’ data held by the NSA but declined to explain the reasons, except to say the requests for access grew after intelligence agency officials became more comfortable with Obama's 2011 order.

They stressed the NSA has strict rules in place to govern when searches for Americans are being conducted and when a U.S. person’s identity can be unmasked. They also hailed the release of the new data as a step toward greater transparency."

As a community, we look for new ways to enhance transparency,” said Alex Joel, who leads ODNI’s Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency. “Our goal is to provide relevant information, distilled into an accessible format. This year's report leans forward in that direction, providing significant information beyond what's statutorily required, and reflecting our concerted effort to enhance clarity."

The data emerges just weeks after Circa first reported that Obama substantially eased the rules starting in 2011 allowing for government officials, including political appointees, to unmask and obtain information about Americans in NSA intercepts.

The easing allowed appointees like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to request and review the unmasked names of Trump campaign or transition officials intercepted in foreign conversations late last year. And it also resulted in the frequent unmasking of members of Congress and their staff, as often as once a month, Circa reported.

The NSA is allowed to spy on foreign powers without a court warrant under Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act but is forbidden from targeting Americans.

For years, the NSA was required to follow strict rules to protect the accidental intercepts of Americans from being consumed by other government agencies. The rules required a process known as minimization, where the identity of an intercepted American is redacted or masked with generic references like “American No. 1.”

But the intelligence community fought hard over the last decade starting under President George W. Bush and continuing under Obama to gain greater access to NSA intercepts of Americans overseas, citing the growing challenges of stopping lone wolf terrorists, state-sponsored hackers, and foreign threats. Obama obliged with a series of orders that began in 2011, moves that were approved by the FISC.

Today, the power to unmask an American’s name -- once considered a rare event in the intelligence and civil liberty communities -- now resides with about 20 NSA officials.

The FBI also has the ability to unmask Americans’ names collected under FISA to other intelligence professionals and policymakers, though it hasn't provided data on its frequency.

And the justification for requesting such unmasking can be as simple as claiming “the identity of the United States person is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,” according to a once-classified document that the Obama administration submitted in October 2011 for approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

That memo laid out specifically how and when the NSA could unmask an American’s identity.

Intelligence officials try to assauge concerns by saying that FISA Section 702 activities are really focused only on foreign powers and stopping national security threats, an argument FBI Director James Comey struck anew Wednesday during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“702 is a critical tool to protect this country and the way it works is we are allowed to conduct surveillance again, under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on non-U.S. persons who are outside the United States if they're using American infrastructure; an email system in the United States, a phone system in the United States. So it doesn't involve U.S. persons and doesn't involve activity in the United States,” Comey testified.

But numerous civil liberty experts, including the ACLU’s Guliani, say such representations aren’t accurate because the NSA accidentally collects so much information on Americans and then shares it after the fact. The FBI, for instance, regularly queries the NSA database and the declassified court document in March said “there is no requirement that the matter be a serious one nor that it have any relation to national security.”

“I think it shows that the facade that government gives that these programs are just targeted at foreigners is just that, a façade,” Guliani told Circa. “The reality is we have an invasive surveillance program and the data we have shows the impact on Americans is quite substantial.”

A federal judge in Washington has ruled in 2013 and again in 2015 that the NSA collection of data on Americans violates the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, but that ruling is winding its way through appeals. The FISA court, meanwhile, continues to support the intelligence community’s continued use of the data, as recently as in 2015.

Circa is in the process of filing what's called a "Mandatory Declassification Review," the legal process that asks the government to declassify certain information.

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ParkAveFlasher's picture

We intel'd some folks.

AVmaster's picture

zero fucks given...


How come he isn't in prison?

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Lol, seriously guys... How many federal polticians and beaucrats have ever gone to prison?

Giant Meteor's picture

Last I checked Phil Gramm was doing time at UBS ..

It's a big club etc., all that noise ..

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ Gaius,

At the current moment we're completely Tyrannically Lawless.
We have been for quite some time. In the past, their Criminality was "Hidden in plain view."

Now it's out in the open, in your face Criminality & Lawlessness. Complete debachary.

Thing is, the bar & precedent has been set so high among these Criminals I doubt we will ever see another person arrested in our lifetime.

NoDebt's picture

@Gaius-  Why would you throw somebody in prison when they serve your purpose better in office, completely compromised to you, to do your bidding?  If you have info on them, you control them.  If you control them what good are they going to do you in a prison cell?

Corruption works FOR the statists.  It is their greatest power of coercion.

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ NoDebt,

It's a Global Massive Sex Compromised Intelligence Operation ring run out of the Deep State headquartered in Israel by the ZioNeoConFascist.?


The Yinon Plan
Operation Talpiot.

Operation Talpiot (Mossad) is a 40 year plan of full spectrum domination of the information telecommunication industry..worldwide.

It's an ongoing operation since the 70's and they have kill switches everywhere. The treasonous and corrupt US .gov has transported all the technology industry to Tel Aviv.

I don't give a flying fu#k that they are possibly watching me. I know who the enemy is, that's all that counts.

philipat's picture

Although potentially helpful in getting to the real issue, this is all a distraction. The fact of the matter is that Enn Ess Aaaaah is collecting everything on every American and storing it in Utah. Not just metadata but everything; emails, phone calls etc. including all content. Snowden and Wilileaks have proven that to be the case so all of these theatrical productions are designed to draw attention away from the real truth.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Then Enn Ess Aaaaah must know where all of the good porn sites are from records like that.

philipat's picture

And it all seems to be getting used for "control" purposes only, because there is simply too much data to analyze adequately. Which explains why NO event in the category for which the collection is supposedly justified in the first place has ever been prevented. In any country, including European nations who have the same problem. Even allowing for the fact that the majority of them are "false flags".

lasvegaspersona's picture

No way!!

General Petreus was caught by accident! I'm certain no politician is being controlled by some boogey person at the NSA...that would be unAmerican...

Ignatius's picture

And William Binney, old school class act.

Giant Meteor's picture

Indeed so, the politics of divide and conquer some more, cheap parlor tricks that sure, sure keep us all fairly entertained, and as we know, entertainment is under the heading, panem et circenses .

Like Whitey Bulger, they are ALL, strictly criminal ..

The difference being of course, Whitey never pretended to be anything else ..

Chupacabra-322's picture

Whitey Bulger = Hillary Clinton.

John Connolly= James Comey.

booboo's picture

The difference is Bulger is in jail and Connolly was run out of the FBI in disgrace, this will never happen to these two butt burglers.

Zorba's idea's picture

clever analogy except Hrot((C)) makes Mr Bulger look like an Irish choir boy. Whitey never hustled uranium, no where no how.

Giant Meteor's picture

You mean there WILL be a government shutdown ? All cunts arrested .. government shutdown, cuz there would be no one left ..

Is it true these fucks were actually chanting na na na na, heh , heh good bye? Seriously? This is the fucking best we got? Where the fuck did all the adults go? Spiking the ball on this shit, 8 years after the fact, where it is revealed despite all the rhetoric, no one apparently had thought about "a plan." And I agree, they are some stupid, stupid motherfuckers ..


Chupacabra-322's picture


We're "Governed" by Children & Psychopaths.

Giant Meteor's picture

You'll get no argument from me ..

techpriest's picture

Yep, and the adult child citizen is cheering it all on, because they would never step up and be the adult themselves.

No Time for Fishing's picture

Because he's one of the good guys. Now if Trump or his people were doing this, impeachment would be the least of his worries. We're OK for now because it was the good guys spying and I am sure they were doing the Lord's work.

TheReplacement's picture

If Trump is a good guy then how come he isn't putting a stop to his agenies' abuses of power, unlawful behavior, and putting individuals in cuffs?

The king is dead, long live the king...

bowie28's picture

Well in fairness the report says they "accidentally" collected the info on US citizens.  Didn't you learn anything from the Comey hearings?  It's ok if you didn't intend to do anything illegal.

Taking it to the logical conclusion, I am 100% certain that not one politician in DC intends to break any laws when they do what they do so the swamp doesn't really need to be drained after all.  It was just a misunderstanding.




Clock Crasher's picture

Its not about exposing it anymore.

Its about rubbing it in your face.

Our only way out now is collapse via over reach.

Giant Meteor's picture

They never do time, unless one considers the half million dollar banker speeches, book tours, and Presidential libraries doing time ..

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ AV,

Because we're

Tyrannically Lawless.

goober's picture

Any bets these were all political opponents, as he still claims to be the most transparent of all ? And PRAVDA/MSM is still covering up the many crimes of his regime.

"Nigga pleeeeeeeeeeeease yu no dat ain right !"  and they all get away scott free to do more damage as they please, and if you mention it you are a racist, homophobe, islamophobe, fascist, suppressing free speech who has no right to speak because it does not agree with the false paradigm created for the masses.

What a fucking joke it all is. America has become little more than a giant criminal enterprsie for the benefit of the control freaks we call government

peopledontwanttruth's picture

Headline should read:
President Obama sought to shoot par from 2008-2016

Mike2756's picture

Will this be in the library?

aloha_snakbar's picture

When is someone going to put that bobbleheaded Halfrican son of a whore out of our misery...

peopledontwanttruth's picture

"Out of our misery"
Now that's funny lol

Herdee's picture

I bet that Obama was spying on Tyler.

MagicCooler's picture

I swear to Sweet White Christ -- Butt Plug Barry is on his way to being the first US president to ever go to prison.

Giant Meteor's picture

The entire goverment is a cottage industry and case study in industrial crime. You honestly believe they will go after one of their own? Please note, last I checked, George HW Bush, George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeild still roam free as well as slick Willy, and Shillary, Phil Gramm ... Christ it's a cast of thousands .. On that level, immunity from prosecution is simply assumed ..

FIAT CON's picture

No, They will alow him to escape to SA.


MagicCooler's picture

Fine with me.  As long as he's disgraced and his legacy destroyed I'm good with exile anywhere I wouldn't go -- and that would certianly include South Africa.

Rockwell's picture

fucking nigger!

Clock Crasher's picture

In yo FACE!!


Clock Crasher's picture

100% Law less


One blackswan from becoming a true to form banana republic. Complete with abject apathy toward ultimate submission.

az_patriot's picture

He should go to jail for this.  Seriously.

IridiumRebel's picture

....and Susan CUNT Rice doesn't wanna testify....

SilverRoofer's picture

I would water Board her ass!

HRClinton's picture

Sorry to tell you, but that won't work.

wisehiney's picture

Hey oBUMMer weasel!

That was me the NSA recorded singing.....

"Fuck that half nigger, fuck that half nigger, and his skanky ass white mama too!"

If you are interested in buying the complete lyrics and music, you can forward that $400,000 wall street speech fee to me.

I will throw in the never before seen or heard final stanza, just for you.

It is a doozy!

Secret Weapon's picture

He is a communist and this is what communists do.  Win at any cost.  Socialists and communists are one in the same except one group has a gun and the only thing they excell at is killing their own countrymen.  If you think about it there is really little practical difference between a jihadi and a communist/socialist.  If your belief system is different from theirs they feel justified in killing you. Ends and means and all that crap. This is not about race.