As allegations have surfaced that former President Barack Obama ordered or knew about unlawful surveillance of President Donald Trump, new information has been revealed about one of Obama’s final moves as president.
On Jan. 12, just eight days before Trump was to be sworn into office, Obama changed the way wiretapping information was shared.
Obama 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, The New York Times reported at the time.
Longstanding limits on what the NSA was allowed to do with the information it gathered were relaxed under Obama’s initiative, meaning more officials would have access to more data.
The executive branch purportedly wanted to increase intelligence sharing in order to ensure that NSA analysts didn’t miss important information.
Under the old rules, the NSA filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, such as the CIA, the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration. NSA analysts would pass along only information they deemed important and would screen out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.
Now, thanks to Obama’s change in procedure, these other intelligence agencies have been allowed to search directly through raw communications intercepted by the NSA and then themselves apply the rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.
The change was “simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said at the time.
The intercepted communications included conversations between then-National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
Members of the intelligence community leaked the communications, which resulted in a scandal for the Trump administration and the resignation of Flynn.
Trump has contended that the whole affair — and other rounds of negative media attention on his administration — were “political” because they were driven by Obama loyalists still in the government — with access to information Obama granted on his way, almost literally, out the door.
“I think President Obama’s behind it, because his people are certainly behind it,” Trump said in late February, according to The Hill. “(S)ome of the leaks possibly come from that group. You know, some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they’re very bad in terms of national security, but I also understand that’s politics. And in terms of him being behind things, that’s politics, and it will probably continue.”
The fact that Obama changed the rules about sharing intelligence information at the last minute certainly supported Trump’s accusations.
H/T BizPac Review
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