Declassified Report Shows Hypocrisy of NSA’s Warrantless Spying
Redacted, declassified report released to the press on a Saturday, casts doubt on the effectiveness, while touting the vastly increased use, of NSA warrantless surveillance.
… Another part of the newly disclosed report provides an explanation for a change in F.B.I. rules during the Bush administration. Previously, F.B.I. agents had only two types of cases: “preliminary” and “full” investigations.
But the Bush administration created a third, lower-level type called an “assessment.”
This development, it turns out, was a result of Stellarwind. (The vast collection, storage and review of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, telephone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.)
F.B.I. agents were asked to scrutinize phone numbers deemed suspicious because of information from the program, but were not told why the data had been deemed suspicious and further, “not to use the information in legal or judicial proceedings.”
That made some agents uncomfortable … it was not clear how such mysterious leads fit into their rules for investigations.
The Justice Department created the new type of investigation, initially called a “threat assessment,” which could be opened with lower-grade tips.
Agents now use them tens of thousands of times a year.