Why didn’t the United States invade Afghanistan and destroy Al Qaeda before September 11, 2001?
One of the most hotly debated aspects of Section 702 is the practice of querying 702-acquired data using U.S.-person identifiers—in particular, queries conducted by the FBI in non-national-security criminal investigations. Some label these “backdoor searches,” although the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has held that such queries are not searches that trigger the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
As Bobby and others have already noted, the NSA announced Friday that it is ending “about” collection under Section 702’s upstream component.
The aftermath of the 2016 election has spun off yet another divisive issue: Whether White House officials inappropriately requested the identities of Trump transition aides whose names had been “masked” in classified intelligence reports. The kerfuffle over unmasking adds even more to the already heaping plates of congressional investigators currently probing Russian “active measures” and leaks of U.S.-person information collected under FISA.
Whatever your political outlook, the ferment surrounding last year’s presidential election raises important, unanswered questions: What, precisely, did the Russians do, and were any Americans involved? Were members of presidential campaigns or transition teams recorded on foreign-intelligence or criminal wiretaps? If so, under what legal authority? Were their identities disseminated within the government? If so, for what purpose? And how did classified information about such wiretaps make its way into the press?
Today’s just-concluded HPSCI hearing provided an informative, remarkably varied tour d’horizon of issues related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
As Lawfare readers know, someone in government leaked the news that Michael Flynn did indeed discuss sanctions in his post-election phone calls with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. The leaker presumably knew this because the U.S. government surveils the Russian ambassador’s phone calls, a practice permitted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.