TOO EASY

Secret Rules 'Enable FBI Spying' on Reporters

According to a new report by The Intercept, classified FBI rules enable agents to obtain the phone records of journalists with only approval from two internal officials. A cache of previously unseen information on documents dating from 2013 detail the agency’s use of national security letters that enable the bureau to spy on reporters without the previously necessary step of obtaining permission from a judge—via a subpoena or search warrant—or informing the news organization in question. “These supposed rules are incredibly weak and almost nonexistent—as long as they have that second signoff, they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “The FBI is entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they have to jump through.” Christopher Allen, a spokesperson for the FBI, declined to comment on the rules. He noted only they are “very clear” that “the FBI cannot predicate investigative activity solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”