United States secret court rubber stamps NSA spying

This video from the USA says about itself:

What is the FISA Court?

12 June 2013

Thom Hartmann talks with Shahid Buttar, Executive Director-Bill of Rights Defense Committee & civil rights attorney about the FISA Court and its role in surveillance in America.

From the New York Daily News in the USA:

U.S. spy court rejects zero out of 1,457 applications for surveillance in 2015


Updated: Saturday, April 30, 2016, 3:27 AM

The secretive U.S. Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court did not deny a single government request in 2015 for electronic surveillance orders granted for foreign intelligence purposes, continuing a longstanding trend, a Justice Department document showed.

The court received 1,457 requests last year on behalf of the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls, according to a Justice Department memo sent to leaders of relevant congressional committees on Friday and seen by Reuters.

The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed.

The total represented a slight uptick from 2014, when the court received 1,379 applications and rejected none.

The court, which acts behind closed doors, was established in 1978 to handle applications for surveillance warrants against foreign suspects by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies and grew more controversial after 2013 leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The electronic surveillance often is conducted with the assistance of Internet and telecommunications companies.

Civil liberties advocates have long derided the court for acting as a “rubber stamp” for government surveillance operations.

The memo also stated that 48,642 national security letter (NSL) requests were made in 2015 by the FBI.

NSLs are a type of subpoena authority used to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data, such as web browsing history, email addresses and subscriber information.

One NSL often contains multiple requests for information, such as a sequence of emails believed relevant to an investigation.

The majority of NSL requests, 31,863, made in 2015 sought information on foreigners, regarding a total of 2,053 individuals, the memo stated.

The FBI made 9,418 requests for national security letters in 2015 for information about U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, regarding a total of 3,746 individuals, it showed.

The FBI also made 7,361 NSL requests for only “subscriber information,” typically names, addresses and billing records, of Americans and foreigners regarding 3,347 different people.

National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act enacted shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

They are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order issued by the Justice Department barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data.

The government also made 142 applications to the surveillance court for access to business records, and it did not deny any of those requests, according to the memo.

‘NSA REPORTEDLY COLLECTED AMERICANS’ PHONE RECORDS EVEN AFTER LAW CHANGE’ “The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year, even after Congress limited its ability to collect bulk phone records, according to an annual report issued on Tuesday by the top U.S. intelligence officer.”

The US House of Representatives voted 256 to 164 Thursday to reauthorize the National Security Agency’s global warrantless surveillance operations for another six years without any significant limitations. Sixty-five Democratic representatives joined 191 Republicans to ensure the continuation of Section 702 of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), which allows for the warrantless collection of electronic communications of individuals outside the US and their contacts, including American citizens within the US. The NSA uses Section 702 to scoop up millions of emails, text messages and video chats with the connivance of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AT&T and other Internet giants: here.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted sarcastically that 19 Senate Democrats and 55 House Democrats, all supposed supporters of the “Resistance” to the Trump administration, had joined “in giving Trump & Sessions greater domestic spying powers while blocking all efforts to add reforms and safeguards.” And Snowden himself tweeted last week, “House votes 256-164 to expand Trump’s warrantless surveillance powers for the next six years. The vote to reform warrantless searches of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails failed, needing the support of 26 more. Dems could have swung it, but 55 of them voted with the Trump camp”: here.

A US intelligence agency report released on Friday revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages made by Americans last year, more than triple the amount gathered in 2016. The revelations come five years after the leaking of documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who first revealed the US government’s mass electronic surveillance operations: here.

5 thoughts on “United States secret court rubber stamps NSA spying

  1. Pingback: Oliver Stone’s new film on Edward Snowden | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Trump presidency, more spying on citizens? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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