(National Sentinel) Negligent: Former FBI Director James Comey was warned by an inter-agency whistleblower that the bureau’s Section 215 warrantless phone surveillance program unveiled by Edward Snowden in 2013 was “woefully ineffective” at catching terrorists and had to be modified, The Hill reported Thursday.
But, says retired Special Agent Bassem Youssef, chief of the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit, no action was taken by Comey in response to concerns he brought up, The Hill reported exclusively.
The Hill noted further:
He said his efforts were prompted by an audit his team conducted showing the program had searched through thousands of Americans’ records but had helped only disrupt one possible terrorist plot over more than a decade.
“I explained to Director Comey that the special program was largely ineffective, very costly and highly burdensome to our agents in the field,” said Youssef, who supervised the program on a daily basis from 2005 through 2014, the news outlet reported.
A decorated counterterrorism agent and previous FBI whistleblower, Youssef said that in the summer of 2014 he attempted to get the FBI to reform its program because he was concerned it gave the bureau easy access to Americans’ phone data.
That, he told The Hill, left the program open to potential abuse even as it generated spurious connections between bad actors and innocent people.
“I believe that the program, as it was, was ripe for potential abuses,” he told the new site. “I think that every law-abiding citizen should feel comfortable and secure in their home in terms of their privacy and that was not the case.”
Youssef added that he has recently been interviewed by at least one congressional committee that is looking into potential problems with the bureau’s surveillance habits.
The Hill noted further that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee are examining whether the bureau used unverified and misleading information to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to spy on a member of the Trump campaign.
But it’s not clear if those committees are looking into potential problems with the warrantless program formerly utilized by the FBI, The Hill reported.
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