A recent Atlantic article about intelligence sharing with foreign governments (What Spy Agencies Tell Foreign Governments About Americans – The Atlantic) articulates concerns about lack of accountability and the potential to violate civil and Constitutional rights. ACLU’s FOIA request asks for “all agreements, memoranda of understanding, or other arrangements with foreign countries concerning the sharing between the United States and any other country of foreign-intelligence surveillance data.”
The Russian election meddling investigation, Snowden leaks and Cyberwar related discussions have sparked debates highlighting some legal and practical dilemmas. Namely CT vs. CI vs. criminal investigations purpose and tools, Section 702 and minimization procedures, unmasking of citizens, and Title 10 vs. Title 50 applications and necessary overlaps between NSA and Cybercom. Add to that non-SIGNIT, human and other covert, espionage, informants (pssst Confidential Sources and more on that in part II) and otherwise acquired/stolen/gifted/inherited information — and there are many sources and agencies that possess all sorts of data relevant to the request.
All of this makes me wonder why the FOIA is limited to “data acquired through or derived from electronic surveillance” (footnote 11) and only from NSA, CIA, ODNI, FBI and DOD.
And to pour salt over the injury — that is one degree above adding insult to and talking about my emotional state with ACLU missing this and not any one else — a more disconcerting danger to privacy and civil/constitutional rights does not come from NSA or CIA level sharing of electronic sourced intelligence data but a much more error, leak, self-service, and corruption prone process or kind of relationship: law enforcement operations that either circumvent or bypass MLAs, MLATs, State Department, masquerade as coordinated stings, or are entirely off-the-books. Which makes part II very interesting.