Newly released documents reveal that a United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge condemned American intelligence agencies for their lack of compliance with the secretive court's rules.
District Judge John D. Bates wrote in a recently declassified 117 page memorandum opinion that the National Security Agency (NSA) disregarded the FISC's guidelines for the surveillance and metadata collection of US citizens email traffic.
"(The NSA's) record of compliance with these rules has been poor," Bates wrote. "The government has provided no meaningful explanation why these violations occurred, but it seems likely that widespread ignorance of the rules was a contributing factor."
The document was one of several declassified yesterday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which also included a number of internal NSA documents, training slides and internal guidance on how foreign intelligence collection is handled.
"Release of these documents reflects the Executive Branch's continued commitment to making information about this intelligence collection program publicly available when appropriate," Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said.
"Additionally, they demonstrate the extent to which the Intelligence Community kept both Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court apprised of the status of the collection program under Section 215."
The release of these documents follows a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and American Civil Liberties Union earlier this year.
In July, the EFF led a consortium of 19 other consumer and privacy groups in suing the NSA for what they claimed was unlawful and unconstitutional data collection.