According to 1,000 pages of heavily redacted classified files recently released by the Administration of Barack Obama, the National Security Agency almost always collected data not authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
John Bates, the presiding judge over FISA court, described the process as “systemic overcollection,” according to The Guardian.
The judges noted that almost every record collected through FISA included data that had not been authorized for collection, and that the abuse has been ongoing since the act gave the NSA permission to snoop through American communications data.
“The government has provided no comprehensive explanation of how so substantial an overcollection occurred,” Bates wrote in an opinion included in the newly released document.
Meanwhile, despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to review a challenge to NSA’s data-collection efforts Monday, a growing number of lawmakers and organizations are joining in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ongoing court battle over the NSA’s activities.
EFF filed First Unitarian Church v. National Security Agency on behalf of 22 organizations including church groups and gun-ownership advocates claiming that the government’s bulk collection of phone records violates Constitutional free speech, association and privacy. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have joined the suit in a friend of the court brief, contending that there is no justification for continued bulk collection of American phone records.
The Senators noted in the brief: “As members of the committee charged with overseeing the National Security Agency’s surveillance, Amici have reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means. The government has at its disposal a number of authorities that allow it to obtain the call records of suspected terrorists and those in contact with suspected terrorists.”