Secret Court: FBI Warrantless Searches Were Illegal

Some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s warrantless searches through the National Security Agency’s enormous troves of communications data violated the law and the Constitution, according to secret surveillance court rulings partially declassified on Tuesday.

The bureau’s so-called backdoor searches, long regarded by civil libertarians as a government end-run around warrant requirements, were overly broad, the court found. They appear to have impacted what a judge on the court called “a large number of individuals, including U.S. persons.” On one day in December 2017 alone, the court found, the FBI conducted 6,800 queries of the NSA databases using Social Security numbers. The government, in secret, conceded that there were “fundamental misunderstandings” amongst some FBI personnel over the standards necessary for the searches.

The redacted ruling was kept secret for a year. It represented the latest legal battle over the scope of post-9/11 mass surveillance that impacts American freedoms in the name of counterterrorism. It was one of several secret court documents released Tuesday by the ODNI.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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