Massive increase in searches of NSA data on U.S. citizens during election year

Under President Obama, U.S. officials vastly expanded their searches of sensitive data captured about Americans during NSA surveillance of foreign targets.

Read Circa’s report

Recently, the website Circa.com broke this major story. A few years ago, the same story would have made big international headlines. But today’s news environment is highly-managed, and the reporting didn’t get as widely circulated as one would expect.

In short, government data provided to Circa shows:

In 2013, the first year such data was kept, there were 9,500 searches and officials scoured the content of calls and emails of 198 Americans.

In 2016, there were well over 30-thousand (30,355) searches, and actual content of nearly 53-hundred (5,288) Americans was scoured through.

Critics worry that the rising numbers could mean that officials are trying to work around laws that prohibit spying on US citizens. Intelligence officials deny that and say they are subject to strict oversight from all three branches of government.

President Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice declined to appear at a public Congressional hearing this week to answer questions about her requests to “unmask” names of Americans “incidentally” captured in intelligence operations. She has said all of her activities were legal, proper and not politically-motivated. 

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