NSA illegally searched 15,000 suspects’ phone records, according to declassified report


Russell Brandon
The Verge
Sept. 10, 2013

As the result of a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified a new cache of documents today, revealing more than a dozen FISA court rulings and internal documents. Among the documents are details of a so-called “compliance breach” in 2009 that saw the NSA improperly track more than 15,000 suspects in violation of FISA court rulings, and resulted in only minimal repercussions for the agency.

The dispute centered around the legal idea of “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” the bar a law enforcement agency must clear before they can stop to search a suspect. In the NSA’s case, this took the form of a list of suspects that FISA courts had determined cleared the bar for reasonable suspicion and could be placed on the NSA alerts list, which would flag their phone records as they entered the system.

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