On May 11, the Director of National Intelligence's office declassified some rulings by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, explaining why the National Security Agency had limited its surveillance of emails and text messages from American citizens. Most of the ruling concerned the NSA's apparently since-corrected use of Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, but, as Circa notes, 83 pages into the 98-page ruling, the FISA court reserved some criticism for the FBI, too.
The FBI has access to certain FISA data from the NSA, but it's required to follow privacy "minimization procedures" and it can't share the FISA data with anyone outside the government, among other restrictions. But on at least two occasions, the FBI shared raw FISA data with private contractors (whose names and functions are redacted), apparently for analytical purposes, and the court notes that the government acknowledged in October that it's "investigating whether there have been similar cases in which the FBI improperly afforded non-FBI personnel access to raw FISA-acquired information on FBI systems."
The contractors were trained on FBI minimization procedures and "stored the information only on FBI systems, and did not disseminate it further," the court said, and though the FBI has correct its identified violations involving contractors, "the court is "nonetheless concerned about the FBI's apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI is engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported."
In a statement to Circa, the FBI said that "as indicated in its opinion, the court determined that the past and current standard minimization procedures are consistent with the Fourth Amendment and met the statutory definition of those procedures under Section 702." Congress has to renew the FISA Amendments Act this year, or it expires, and lawmakers are trying to figure out where to draw the line between privacy rights and legitimate counterterrorism and law enforcement. Peter Weber
Fox News' Shep Smith lists everyone Trump attacked over the weekend, asks why he won't ever criticize Russia
"The president spent the weekend defending himself, misrepresenting the truth, and attacking others from his phone in Florida," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said Monday afternoon, kicking off his look at President Trump's weekend of tweeting. Trump fired off angry, frequency inaccurate tweets against the FBI, the Justice Department, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey, among other targets, Smith noted, but tellingly, "he did not attack Vladimir Putin or Russia, nor did he express concern that the Russians attacked the United States, nor did he pledge in any way to put measures in place to stop future attacks."
Smith read some tweets and did some fact-checking, noting, for example, that while Trump insisted he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election," in fact "the reality is the president has questioned the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over and over and over again." Trump conflated Russian election meddling, now conclusively proved, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's collusion investigation, Smith added. "The collusion investigation, according to our reporting, is ongoing," and "the extent to which Russian meddling did or did not affect the results of the election is an open question."
Smith seemed most perplexed by Trump's unwillingness to criticize Russia or Putin. "The president's spokespersons have been on television denouncing the meddling, the president has not," he said. "Not once, not on camera, not on Twitter, not anywhere." Watch below. Peter Weber
More than two years after Wanda Roberts and her family threw a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean, it was found by Edward Paulino, thousands of miles away in Guam.
Roberts' late father, Bob Mahan, loved to camp out by the ocean, and on Sept. 9, 2015, the family gathered on the beach in Navarro, California, sending a message in a bottle out to sea. It ultimately reached the shores of Malojloj, where it was discovered on Feb. 3 by Paulino. Paulino's daughter, Gerika, told the Pacific Daily News her dad likes "collecting interesting items on the beach," and when he found the bottle he urged her to contact Roberts. "It's amazing that the bottle traveled such a long distance," she said.
The faded pink bottle contained a letter from Roberts, explaining why she had thrown it into the ocean, and a small container of bubbles sporting a picture of Mahan's favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Gerika Paulino messaged Roberts, who lives in Washington, on Facebook to let her know the bottle had arrived in Guam, and Roberts was thrilled. "Social media is a wonderful outlet connecting us to another part of the world," she said. "This brought back fond memories, and all of the family agrees that my dad would have loved to know we did this." Catherine Garcia
Sure, presidential historians have their own rankings of presidential greatness, but President Trump grades on a different scale, according to Late Night's "Donald J. Trump's Guide to U.S. Presidents, Vol. 1." Trump, naturally, ranks No. 1 and his predecessor, Barack Obama, was barely worth a mention, but Trump also weighed in on Grover Cleveland ("He always cracked me up when I would see him on Sesame Street"), George Washington's wife, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton's wife. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump, who once called Mitt Romney a "mixed up man who doesn't have a clue," someone "so awkward and goofy," and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics," announced on Monday that Romney has "my full support and endorsement" in his quest to become the next senator from Utah.
Romney, who once called Trump "a phony, a fraud," and someone whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University" who's now playing "the American public for suckers," accepted, tweeting: "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."
Ah, politics. Catherine Garcia
Peter Wang died a hero, and his friends from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want his burial to reflect that.
Wang, 15, was one of 17 people killed last week during a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida. Witnesses said Wang, who was a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, was helping his fellow students to safety when he was fatally shot. His friend Aiden Ortiz has put together a petition asking for Wang, who was wearing his JROTC uniform when he was killed, to be buried with full military honors. "I want people to know that he died a hero, that he died saving many people," Ortiz told WPLG. Classmate Rachel Kuperman also remembered Wang as a caring person, saying that last Tuesday, one day before the shooting, she forgot her lunch, and Wang bought her candy, snacks, and a Sprite from a vending machine. "He put others before himself," she said.
The petition is on the White House's We the People site, and if more than 86,000 people sign it, the White House will respond. As of Monday night, the petition had more than 33,000 signatures. Wang's funeral will be held on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia
The White House saw last week's shooting at a Florida high school, which left 17 dead and 15 injured, as "a distraction or a reprieve," one official told The Washington Post on Monday.
"A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled," the official said, referring to several scandals of the administration's own making, including Cabinet members using taxpayer money to fly first class and top officials evidently ignoring documented accusations of domestic abuse made against former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter by his two ex-wives.
The unidentified aide added that while the spotlight isn't quite as bright on the White House right now, "as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we'll be back through the chaos." Catherine Garcia
The ghosts of James Buchanan and William Henry Harrison are feeling pretty good right now.
Professors from the University of Houston and Boise State University sent current and recent members of the presidential politics section of the American Political Science Association a survey on presidential greatness, asking 170 historians to grade each president. In bad news for President Trump, he came in dead last, bumping Buchanan — faulted for bringing the United States to the brink of civil war — up a spot. Abraham Lincoln came out on top, followed by George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson, while Harrison, who died of pneumonia just 31 days into his term, joined Trump and Buchanan at the bottom.
The survey was last conducted in 2014, and this year, Barack Obama moved up 10 places, coming in eighth. Out of other modern presidents, George W. Bush ranked 30th, Bill Clinton 13th, George H.W. Bush 17th, and Ronald Reagan ninth. There was some consensus with Trump: He ranked in the bottom five for Republican, Democratic, independent, liberal, conservative, and moderate historians, and he did win one category: "Most polarizing." Catherine Garcia