In former President Barack Obama’s final days, his administration signed into law new rules that greatly expanded the power of the National Security Agency, rules that were ultimately directly responsible for this week’s high-profile resignation of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, coming just weeks into Trump’s presidency.
In a Jan. 12, 2017 story in the New York Times that went remarkably unnoticed by the media, it was revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was appointed by Obama, signed new rules on Jan. 3 permitting the NSA to “share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections,” according to the Times.
“The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.”
The Times continues: “The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.”
The NSA was previously compartmentalized from other intelligence agencies, and was required to filter private citizens’ intercepted communications before sharing with other agencies such as the FBI, in order to afford a minutiae of more privacy to citizens being spied on. But with the new powers given to it by the Obama administration, other agencies – some of which may be more politicized than the NSA – are now able to tap directly into the NSA’s database of intercepted raw communications, explained PJ Media.
And that’s precisely how the FBI determined that Flynn had been communicating with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak and had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations.