Targeting members of the press under the law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires approval from the Justice Department’s highest-ranking officials, the documents show.
In two 2015 memos for the FBI, the attorney general spells out “procedures for processing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting known media entities or known members of the media.” The guidelines say the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, or their delegate must sign off before the bureau can bring an application to the secretive panel of judges who approves monitoring under the 1978 act, which governs intelligence-related wiretapping and other surveillance carried out domestically and against U.S. persons abroad.
The high level of supervision points to the controversy around targeting members of the media at all. Prior to the release of these documents, little was known about the use of FISA court orders against journalists. Previous attention had been focused on the use of National Security Letters against members of the press; the letters are administrative orders with which the FBI can obtain certain phone and financial records without a judge’s oversight. FISA court orders can authorize much more invasive searches and collection, including the content of communications, and do so through hearings conducted in secret and outside the sort of adversarial judicial process that allows journalists and other targets of regular criminal warrants to eventually challenge their validity.
“This is a huge surprise,” said Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel with the Center for Investigative Reporting, previously of Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. “It makes me wonder, what other rules are out there, and how have these rules been applied? The next step is figuring out how this has been used.”
Saturday, May 5, 2018 - NSA triples spying rate on Americans’ phone calls, collects 530mn records in 2017
The NSA has tripled its surveillance of Americans’ phone chatter, collecting over 534mn phone call records and text messages last year, despite pressure for more restrictions and transparency, a new official report has revealed.
Monday, February 26, 2018 - Newly Released Documents Prove FISA Surveillance Court Spying on Innocent Americans
Newly released court orders show that the secret FISA court violates innocent Americans’ privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has acquired formerly classified court orders from the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) which detail how the court violates the privacy of innocent Americans caught in the crossfire of federal surveillance.
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - Intelligence Agencies Join FBI in Push Against Plans to Release FISA Abuse Memo
Whistleblowers, Republican congressional members, and some former intelligence officials cite mounting concern that the White House may not release the House Intelligence Committee’s FISA abuse memo as the FBI pushed against plans to make it public based on false allegations that the memo contains information that would harm U.S. national security, sources tell this reporter.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE...
SOURCE: THE INTERCEPT