Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating to 2013, govern the FBI’s use of National Security Letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.Media advocates said that the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a National Security Letter (or NSL) requires the sign-off of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

Source: Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

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