News organization asks Trump to declassify data on how Obama used NSA to spy on Americans... Journalists, lawmakers, other presidential candidates unmasked?
Circa has formally requested that the Trump administration declassify records showing how often government officials have searched National Security Agency intercepts for intelligence on U.S. presidential candidates, members of Congress, journalists, clergy, lawyers, federal judges and doctors and how often such Americans had their identities unmasked by the intelligence community after Barack Obama made it easier to do so in 2011.
The request follows anexclusive Circa report on Wednesday that revealed that the Obama administration conducted more than 35,000 searches on NSA intercepts seeking information about Americans during the divisive 2016 election year.
“The law makes President Trump the ultimate declassifying authority, and we believe the president can answer many troubling questions by declassifying this information, including how often First Amendment protected professionals had their privacy impacted by NSA intercepts and why some of Trump’s own aides were unmasked in NSA data by the prior White House,” said John Solomon, the chief operating officer of Circa and the author of Wednesday’s story.
The NSA is allowed under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on foreign powers without a court warrant but the law prohibits the targeting of Americans for such surveillance. If the NSA accidentally intercepts Americans or information about them overseas, it is supposed to legally put the information in a virtual lock box.
But starting in 2011, former President Obama made it easier to access that information, essentially creating keys for intelligence professionals and even his own political aides to unlock the NSA’s lock box to consume surveillance on Americans.
Circa reported Wednesday that since those changes, the number of requests to search NSA records for Americans’ information tripled under the former administration.