WASHINGTON, D.C.—Intelligence agencies violated the constitutional rights of American citizens through illegal surveillance during the Obama administration, recently declassified documents from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) show.
The secretive court also notes a change for the better under President Trump’s team.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes two courts to provide judicial review for U.S. intelligence agencies when their activities require them to monitor people on U.S. soil. One is FISC, and the other is the court that hears appeals from FISC decisions, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR). The benches of FISC are comprised of federal judges from regular federal trial courts throughout the nation, and three appellate judges from around the nation comprise the bench of FISCR.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) recently declassified an April 26, 2017, ruling from FISC, detailing violations of Fourth Amendment rights during the final year of the Obama administration.
The problems dealt specifically with Section 702 of FISA. This provision of federal law, found at 50 U.S.C. § 1881a, contains “minimization” procedures for U.S. citizens whose information is scooped up by the intelligence community while those agencies are conducting FISA surveillance. These safeguards minimize the burden on civil rights caused by the intrusion of the federal government into citizens’ lives.