Posted by Curt on 27 April, 2021 at 3:52 pm. 5 comments already!


by Bevan Hurley

The FBI searched troves of communications sucked up by the National Security Agency for information on ‘racially motivated violent extremists’ without a warrant, ignoring previous warnings it was breaking the law.
The FBI’s requests for access to masses of electronic communications harvested by the National Security Agency (NSA) is revealed in a newly declassified report from the United States’ secret surveillance court. 
It shows the FBI has continued to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases for routine criminal investigations, despite being told by a federal judge in 2018 and 2019 that such a use was an unconstitutional breach of privacy.  
The FBI focused many of its warrantless searches – commonly referred to as backdoor queries – on suspected ‘far-right’ domestic terrorists, The Daily Beast reported.  
It’s unclear from the heavily-redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court report whether the FBI uncovered any criminal extremist behavior or made any arrests resulting from the searches.  

In its gathering of ‘foreign’ communications data, the NSA often sweeps up Americans’ communications, too.  
It’s unclear how many Americans had their data viewed by the FBI in its search for ‘racially motivated’ extremists. 
The FISA report did reveal that a single request for data to the NSA from an FBI analyst for information on a suspected domestic terrorists returned 33 hits. 
It’s not clear how many other requests were tied to the hunt for alleged racially motivated extremists, nor who at the FBI asked for the data or approved the request.
A senior FBI official told the FBI had taken ‘numerous steps’ to comply with the FISA court guidance over the past 18 months. 
The official wouldn’t answer other questions on specifics and referred questions to the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). 
An NSA spokesman said it wouldn’t comment when reached by the A spokeswoman for the ODNI said they had no additional information to what FBI had provided. 
The FBI did not say what it did with seized data that turned out to be harmless or irrelevant to its search, or whether its access to the NSA’s electronic dragnet led to any arrests or convictions.  
In 2019, a federal court ruled the US government can collect information about its citizens without obtaining a warrant if the information is gathered inadvertently while legally carrying out surveillance of non-nationals abroad, such as what the NSA does routinely. 

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