Retired agent says bureau’s Obama-era leaders ignored privacy, cost warnings, may have retained program for ‘political espionage’
The FBI agent who ran the bureau’s warrantless spying program said Wednesday he warned ex-Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe that the program was a useless waste of taxpayer money that needlessly infringed Americans’ civil liberties but his bosses refused to take action.
Retired Special Agent Bassem Youssef ran the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit from late 2004 until his retirement in late 2014. He told Just the News he fears the deeply flawed program, which was started in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, was allowed to keep going to give Americans a false sense of security in the war on terror and possibly to enable inappropriate spying, such as that which targeted President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“I have no doubt, or very little doubt, that it was used for political spying or political espionage,” Youssef said during a lengthy interview for the John Solomon Reports podcast.
Youssef confirmed that the FBI performed an audit of the highly classified program (also known as the NSA program because it searched call records captured by the National Security Agency) after Edward Snowden leaked its existence.
The audit showed that while the program had generated two moderate leads for counterterrorism cases, it had not helped thwart dozens of terrorism attacks as officials had claimed, despite costing tens of millions of dollars per year.
In fact, the program was generating large numbers of “false negatives and positives,” Youssef said.
The audit, he added, also showed “there was collateral damage in terms of civil liberties” of Americans whose phone records were unnecessarily searched or who were falsely identified as connected to terrorism.
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