Unclassified Documents Show Obama Intel Agency Secretly Spied On Americans For Years

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by John Solomon and Sara Carter via Circa.com,

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

“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 unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries inviolation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

Speaking Wednesday on Fox News, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said there was an apparent effort under the Obama Administration to increase the number of unmaskings of Americans.

“If we determine this to be true, this is an enormous abuse of power,” Paul said. “This will dwarf all other stories.”


“There are hundreds and hundreds of people,” Paul added.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.


“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.


“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 culture of adherence to privacy standards,” she added. “And the headline now is they actually haven’t been in compliacne for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor.”

The NSA acknowledged it self-disclosed the mass violations to the court last fall and that in April it took the extraordinary step of suspending the type of searches that were violating the rules, even deleting prior collected data on Americans to avoid any further violations.

“NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” the agency said in the statement that was dated April 28 and placed on its Web site without capturing much media or congressional attention.

In question is the collection of what is known as upstream “about data”about an American that is collected even though they were not directly in contact with a foreigner that the NSA was legally allowed to intercept.

The NSA said it doesn’t have the ability to stop collecting ‘about’ information on Americans, “without losing some other important data. ” It, however, said it would stop the practice to “reduce the chance that it would acquire communication of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”

The NSA said it also plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

Agency officials called the violations “inadvertent compliance lapses.” But the court and IG documents suggest the NSA had not developed a technological way to comply with the rules they had submitted to the court in 2011.

Officials “explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks” and had not “included the proper limiters” to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.

The NSA conducts thousand of searches a year on data involving Americans and the actual numbers of violations were redacted from the documents Circa reviewed.

But a chart in the report showed there three types of violations, the most frequent being 5.2 percent of the time when NSA Section 702 upstream data on U.S. persons was searched.

The inspector general also found  noncompliance between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent of the time involving NSA activities in which there was a court order to target an American for spying  but the rules were still not followed. Those activities are known as Section 704 and Section 705 spying.

Review | The NSA inspector general’s highly redacted chart showing privacy violations.

The IG report spared few words for the NSA’s efforts before the disclosure to ensure it was complying with practices, some that date to rules issued in 2008 in the final days of the Bush administration and others that Obama put into effect in 2011.

“We found that the Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed,” the inspector general reported, citing problems ranging from missing requirements for documentation to the failure to complete controls that would ensure “query compliance.”

The NSA’s Signal Intelligence Directorate, the nation’s main foreign surveillance arm, wrote a letter back to the IG saying it agreed with the findings and that “corrective action plans” are in the works.

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Croesus's picture

Of course he did, just like Shrub, Clinton, and Daddy Shrub did.

It's all about "protecting American lives"...THEIRS, AND THEIR DOGS.

Bes's picture

it's a good thing trump is shutting down the MIC.

ThaBigPerm's picture

FISA and ACLU themselves have commented (darkly) on this event.  Which of course means your MSM/pop-culture friends will look at you like you sprouted 3 heads if you ever bring it up in casual conversation.....

Croesus's picture


"Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made..."

Basically, "We weren't breaking the rules, because we changed the rules so we wouldn't be breaking them".

Tyrranical Lawlessness, indeed.

AltRight Girl's picture

Expect more leaks to come now that the old boss was kicked out.

Leaking is the gift that keeps on giving:

Guciffer 2.0 Emailed Democratic Voter Turnouts to GOP Consultant after DNC Hack

john doeberg's picture

Oy Vey !

They caught him and turned him into kosher food!

JamesBond's picture

The goal of socialism is communism.


Mission accomplished.



Jim in MN's picture

ALL the shit that the spooks PROMISED they'd NEVER do when 'we' gave 'them' the Patriot Act.


Chupacabra-322's picture

@ Croesus,

Tyrannical Lawlessness indeed.

Tell be all about it.

To reiterate, it's absolutely, completely, open in your Face
Tyrannical Lawlessness.

The Criminal Fraud UNITED STATES, CORP. INC. & its affiliates at the Criminal Fraud STATE / LOCAL Municipalites BOND markets predicates that we are a Nation of Law not Men.

Hence, the "Full Faith & Credit" (Birth Certificate) of the American People (Consenting Citizen IMF Slave).

We've now incrementally evolved into a Nation of Men.
The Emperor is Stark Naked.

How soon before the Global Bond Markets expoldes is anyone's guess.
Full Faith the Collapse is eminent.

AltRight Girl's picture

ACLU = Soros fanboys. Don't count on them

And FISA = Deep State fanboys. 

Luc X. Ifer's picture

R u fucking surprised?! Is this news?! Why do you think 9/11 happened?! More than 3000 American citizens paid with their lives so that the oligarchic aristocracy can acquire this level of power & control over their livestock of serfs.

847328_3527's picture
Tom Fitton on The Daily Caller: Obama Holdouts in Trump Admin. Hiding Hillary Emails for YEARS


mofreedom's picture

Nah, they just wanted all the dick (young and old) pics they could get their hands on;;;only the queerest of intentions.

Giant Meteor's picture

Don't you know it ..

Sub contracting out more work to the head, head choppers. A fine American tradition !

junction's picture

The Seth Rich file is one of the thickest files, containing his illegal NSA wiretap information.  Naturally, Trump's file is the thickest.

The Squid's picture

We monitored some folks...

Giant Meteor's picture

Yes, just as I surmised. It all started with Obam ..

Bloody hell ..

DrData02's picture

Yeah, I suppose that if other people commit murder it's OK for you to do it too. Obama even decided to increase the unconstitutional activity by an order of magnitude or two.

Giant Meteor's picture

I do not believe anyone, certainly not me, is saying that ..

September 11, 2001 ...

Soon followed by the "Patriot Act"

Truth is deep states been doing the deep state thing a long long time. What was needed was a reason to codify treason into law, you know, for everyone's safety ..

coup d'état gradually, then all at once ...

Obama was just another bit actor, in the deep state shit show ..

They be playin on the same team ..


Croesus's picture

Project Echelon and Operation Carnivore started in the 90's. These were the original mass-surveillance programs put into play, as computers started gaining wider use by the public.

The means to collect the data, is achieved via "collection points" which ALL data passes through, installed on the backbones of service provider networks themselves.

Did you ever see the Information Awareness Office logo? Wikipedia still has it up:


They incorrectly state that it doesn't exist; its core duties were divided between the CIA & NSA, and is what the NSA's Utah data center houses records of.

Giant Meteor's picture

Thanks for that ..

Orwell was a visionary ... ahead of his time ..

Croesus's picture

@ Giant Meteor:

Any time, my friend! Despite how daunting some of this may seem, it's important that people keep things in perspective:

Sure, they got all the fancy toys, and fancy rules, but it still comes down to a question of enforcement.

These people are nothing to be afraid of.

They hide in the dark, and watch from a distance, like a herd of pathetic peeping Toms.

They protect another herd of mostly senile old farts, who went off the rails morally & mentally, a long time ago.

The senile old farts create a code of rules, which they rely on corrupt judges, but a mostly-good police force to enforce.

It's a house of illusion, wholly dependent on human ignorance for its survival, in an age when information travels farther, faster than it ever did before.

GeezerGeek's picture

Are you suggesting that Algore invented the internet so his statist pals can spy on us more easily?

mkhs's picture

The only thing algore invented was auto-asphyxiation by shoving his head up his bunghole.

Squid Viscous's picture

about time for another false flag to keep the US sheeples quiet about all this stuff?

xrxs's picture

I want to be safe from terrorists who are less dangerous than lawnmowers, lightning, and furniture falling on me.  Just to be sure, take these constitutional rights.

espirit's picture

New Jersey most likely. Recent drill.

CCanuck's picture

+1000 Squid,
With so much tension,escalation and wars going on everywhere, big scandals on verge of breaking, alleged markets at bubbly highs, corruption being revealed. That sets the table for a Godzilla Squirrel sized Distraction!

They gonna need some big nuts to feed that thing!


Schmuck Raker's picture

"VERY serious issue...", so you know...'EVERY effort will be made to rectify this.'

Now, let's all take in a DEEP breath, and hold................

Ross123's picture

I think John and Sarah at Circa are doing a fantastic job on this. Journalism the way it should be done.

(NB. I have nothing to do with Circa or the 2 journalists.)

DuneCreature's picture

I think you are a paid shill and are full of shit.

You know what I think is going on here?

I'm going to tell you because you don't want to hear it. And neither do Sara and John.

This report/story/cock-meme cluster, true or not, is designed to muddy the waters about totally illegal spying on American citizens by Barry, John and James.

Whenever someone searches illegal surveillance this 'fluff - nothing can be done about it' piece of shit story will come up and divert attention from the HAMMER at Fort Washington MD.

That's what I think. .. And I think Sara and John's journalism skills suck too.

Live Hard, You're Welcome And Your Turn, Die Free

~ DC v6.0

Jim in MN's picture

They're not so bad. They are careful.  They've been building stories on verifiable evidence, one piece at a time, the old fashioned way.

That said, the stories Circa has been putting out are about the intercepts and who is 'doing' whom in terms of unmasking etc. 

This begs the question: What's IN the intercepts?  More interesting still--what's in the intercepts of the interceptors?  Like, Susan Rice, what's in HER file?  McCabe, what's in HIS file?  Not the story here, which is that they have groping fingers and sticky noses stuck in other peoples' files.

This story series is mainly useful for two things:

1. Establishing that the Deep State is real and out of control for newbies (show these to your family and friends, not some seamy semi-porno anti-Semitic fringe site) and

2. Rubbing Congress' face in the fact that they are being humiliated and shown to be servile wretches every single day by the spook parade looking in their undies and bank accounts.


So you know, I am sure you aren't learning much from these stories but it is about the most legit and sharable source to get some of the basic dimensions of the Spook Nation out to the public, plus the overtly political espionage (AKA NeoWatergate) aspects.


All just IMHO.

DuneCreature's picture

I know, people are trying.

I shouldn't be in such a crappy mood.

Thanks for the lift up, JiMN.

Live Hard, Learning That George Webb Is Full On Mossad And Only Wants To Fix Things 'A Little Bit' Ruined My Day Some, Die Free

~ DC v6.0

Ross123's picture

Well, I have yet to see anyone contradict anything they have said or written. There aren't many out there who can make that claim.

As for "you are a paid shill and are full of shit." ---I writing that makes you feel better. You know the old saying about when you start calling people names we know you have lost the argument.

DuneCreature's picture

My apologies.

It's a diversion and I simply believe you fell for it.

Again, my apologies.

Live Hard, Sorry For The Name Calling, Die Free

~ DC v6.0

Paul Morphy's picture

I thought GW Bush's presidency was the nadir, Obummers presidency and legacy could well prove far worse.

Giant Meteor's picture

Well keep going, that's the idea ..

It's kind of like the double dog dare red line thing ..

Just when ya think you've seen it all ..

Let's face it, they're all bums in suits  ..


HRH Feant2's picture

After Snowden and Wikileak's release of Vault 7 I thought this was common knowledge.

Sudden Debt's picture

And yet the media keeps saying that this moron was the most popular president ever...

I think they should hang him.

And that merkel story? That cunt knew Germany was spied on by America and they're all still buddies???


SheHunter's picture

Not buddies.  Symbiotic relationship.

Sudden Debt's picture

I just don't understand it....


I have a hotmail account that I use for my private mails and once, I former collegue managed to hack it.

When I heard about it, 15 minutes later I was on the phone with my lawyer.


Cassandra.Hermes's picture

Section 702 of the FISA authorizes the Intelligence Community to target the communications of non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. A key anti-terror tool that has helped to thwart numerous terror plots including the 2009 conspiracy to bomb the New York City subway.
The section 702 operations are subject to multiple layers of oversight by all three branches of government.
It was Bush not Obama, who introduce it with provision to spy on USA citizens, Obama administration limits its powerful surveillance to the rest of the world, not US citizens in 2011. SO PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT, NOT ALL THE AMERICANS ARE IGNORANT

GeezerGeek's picture

So Obama never spied on Congress? Or SCOTUS? or Trump? Send me some of whatever you've been smoking, if it's legal.

BTW, Bush or Obama, or Bush or Clinton, all the same piles of stinking crap. They all should be tried and convicted of treason and crimes agains We the People.