Circa: FBI Illegally Shared Espionage Data On Americans With Unauthorized Actors

Posted: May 26, 2017 1:00 PM

Circa has been reporting on the intelligence community’s breaches into constitutional privacy protections. They reported that the National Security Agency had violated privacy protections for years under the Obama administration, but now they’re saying that the FBI also illegally shared spy data on Americans with persons who did not have clearance to review such information:

The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI’s privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey’s watch.

The behavior the FBI admitted to a FISA judge just last month ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.

The court also opined aloud that it fears the violations are more extensive than already disclosed.


The Justice Department inspector general’s office declassified a report in 2015 that reveals the internal watchdog had concerns as early as 2012 that the FBI was submitting ‘deficient” reports indicating it had a clean record complying with spy data gathered on Americans without a warrant.

When it was revealed the Bush administration had a secret domestic spy program, the news media went into a frenzy of coverage. It drew condemnation from members of Congress as well. Since a good portion of this timeline of reported abuse occurs during the Obama presidency, we sadly shouldn’t expect the same amount of coverage.