By The Intercept. The FBI routinely uses secret orders known as national security letters to demand information that recipients might not actually have to give up, internal documents indicate. The letters are among the FBI’s most potent instruments, because they function like subpoenas without requiring the approval of a judge. Internal guidelines suggest that the bureau has been using them to pursue sensitive electronic data and phone records — despite the fact that such attempts overstep the bureau’s legal authority.
The Intercept obtained the FBI’s rules for national security letters as they are spelled out in two different guides: a document detailing current guidelines for agents using the letters and an uncensored 2011 version of the FBI’s main operating manual, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. Both documents are marked “unclassified” or “for official use only.” The first document has not been previously released. The DIOG has been made public only in heavily redacted form.
The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year. They are controversial in part because they carry the force of law but are created entirely outside the judicial system: To issue one, an FBI official just needs to attest that the information sought is relevant to a national security investigation. The letters have also been criticized because they are shrouded in secrecy. Companies that receive them are for the most part forbidden from notifying their customers or the public. The government has fought to keep even basic rules governing them secret. (Read more from “Bombshell: FBI Used Secret Program to Gather Information on Trump Campaign, No Judge Needed” HERE)
Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation
By The New York Times. Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane. (Read more from “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation” HERE)