1. Justice Department's secret FISA rules for targeting journalists
The federal government can secretly monitor American journalists under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according two 2015 memos from then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The memos were obtained by The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Freedom of the Press Foundation through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which was reported on by The Intercept, whose parent company provides funding for both organizations, but was virtually ignored by the corporate media.
The secret rules "apply to media entities or journalists who are thought to be agents of a foreign government, or, in some cases, are of interest under the broader standard that they possess foreign intelligence information," The Intercept reported.
Project Censored cited three "concerning" questions the memos raise:
• First, how many times have FISA court orders been used to target journalists, and are any currently under investigation?
• Second, why did the Justice Department keep these rules secret when it updated its "media guidelines" in 2015? And, third, is the Justice Department using FISA court orders — along with the FBI's similar rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters (NSLs) — to "get around the stricter 'media guidelines'"?
The corporate media virtually ignored these revelations when they occurred. The subsequent media interest in FISA warrants targeting President Donald Trump's campaign adviser Carter Page "has done nothing at all to raise awareness of the threats posed by FISA warrants that target journalists and news organizations," Project Censored observed.
They ended with a quote from Ramya Krishnan, a staff attorney with the Knight Institute, summarizing the stakes: "National security surveillance authorities confer extraordinary powers. The government's failure to share more information about them damages journalists' ability to protect their sources, and jeopardizes the news gathering process."