ACLJ Requests Records from DOJ and Intelligence Agencies on Obama Administration’s Last Minute Expansion of Access to Intelligence Information
Today we delivered Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Security (ODNI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) to find out why the Obama Administration waited until mere days before a new Administration took over to implement a significant change in intelligence policy.
As we’ve stated before, this significant policy change appears to have a direct correlation to the exponentially increased number of intel leaks the Trump Administration has been dealing with.
By greatly expanding access to classified information by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, the Obama Administration paved the way for a shadow government to leak that classified information, endangering our national security, in an attempt to undermine President Trump.
While sharing information among intelligence agencies is not a new concept, and this isn’t the first time an Administration has made amendments to intelligence policy, the timing is suspect.
According to the New York Times, “[i]n its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” On December 15, 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper executed a document entitled “Procedures for the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information by the National Security Agency Under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333.” In turn, on January 3, 2017, then-Attorney General Lynch approved these new procedures.
The significance of the Obama Administration’s new rules is a relaxation of previously established “limits on what the N.S.A. may do with information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations.” What is also not clear, and what the ACLJ seeks to determine through its FOIA request, is why, after having the opportunity to expand the policy during its 8 years in power, the Obama Administration waited to change the policy just days before a new administration was set to begin.
Even the ACLU called this an "erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans."
We submitted our FOIA requests so that we can get to the bottom of this significant intelligence policy change and expose whether this last minute move of an outgoing Administration was meant to facilitate leaks detrimental to the incoming President – by dramatically expanding the raw information that career intelligence agency employees can access.
Among other things, our FOIAs request any records or communications among and between government agencies and officials
referencing, connected to, or regarding in any way their approval of the procedures set forth in the document entitled “Procedures for the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information by the National Security Agency Under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333,” which Director of National Intelligence Clapper executed on December 15, 2016, and which then-Attorney General Lynch approved on January 3, 2017.
The American people deserve to know the truth about how their government operates and the true reasons for the decisions it makes.
We will hold our government accountable by obtaining and examining authentic and authoritative sources for what actually happened, who was involved, and the reasons underlying these governmental activities.