February 19, 2017
In light of the recent flurry of leaks by the so-called “deep state”, which includes such agencies as the NSA and FBI and which last week lead to the resignation of Mike Flynn after a phone recording of his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador was leaked to the WaPo and other anti-Trump publications, an article published on January 12 by the NYT has generated renewed interest.
One month ago, the NYT reported that “In its final days, the Obama administration expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.”
The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches. The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.
While previously the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and furthermore N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information, following passage of Obama’s 11th hour rule, “other intelligence agencies will be able to search…