(National Sentinel)Â Unconstitutional:Â It seems like forever when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden spilled the beans on outsized and illegal data collection of nearly all Americans‘ electronic communications in 2013.
Snowden’s revelations become one of the Obama administration’sÂ many scandals and sent Congress into panic and cover-up mode as lawmakers scrambled to downplay the former contractor’s claims and do as much damage control as possible.
In the years since Congress and the NSA both haveÂ attempted to assure Americans that their data is safeÂ and that no more unconstitutional vacuuming of all electronic communications was occurring.
Well,Â those assurances were likely bunk.
A new Intelligence Community Inspector General Report makes clear that the agency may very well be doing massive data collection again, or at least is positioning itself for that task.
Fifth Domain reports:
The National Security Agency is at an â€œincreased riskâ€ of jeopardizing civil liberties and the privacy of American citizens, according to an inspector general report that comes just months after a controversial program that collects emails and phone calls was extended.
The NSA watchdog said that agency analysts performed â€œnoncompliantâ€ searches using the organizationâ€™s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Authority, which were caused by â€œhuman error, incomplete understanding of the rules, and gaps in guidance.â€
According to the report, which covered the period from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018 the unauthorized searches were related to the FISAâ€™s counterterrorism authority.
â€œThis has been going on for some time,â€ said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University. He said that noncompliance was a heated topic when the section 702 of the FISA act wasÂ reauthorized earlier this year. â€œA fair amount of it was apparently mechanical or machine-driven mistakes … you would expect it might take the better part of a year for improvement in implementation to show results.â€
Previously, privacy groups have raised issue with the noncompliance searches of digital and electronic records.
â€œWhile these violations are not willful â€” they are inadvertent or unintentional â€” they are extremely concerning,â€Â wroteÂ Robyn Greene, a policy counsel at New America, in the report that analyzed section 702 program violations. â€œThese unintentional violations are a threat to Americans’ privacy, and their impact can be significant and prolonged.â€
But are theyÂ reallyÂ ‘inadvertent’? Or is the way NSA operators perform searches done in a manner that gives the agencyÂ plausible deniability?
We expect our intelligence community to do what it can toÂ protect America and safeguard our country.
But we also expect the NSA to perform its functionÂ within the parameters of the law and the Constitution.
If they won’t do that, thenÂ people need to be held accountable.