The United States intelligence community intercepts members of Congress and their staffers so frequently, that they notify Congress monthly which employees have been swept up in foreign surveillance operations and who has been ‘unmasked’, reports Circa news.
The monthly reports, called ‘Gates notifications’ -after former CIA director Bob Gates- is distributed to key Congressional lawmakers known as 'The Gang of Eight', which includes the house speaker, minority leader, and senate GOP and democratic leadership.
It is common that the affected lawmakers and employees are not notified that their identities have been ‘unmasked’, only occurring if there is a security or cybersecurity threat.
“This is intrusive on many different levels,” said Sara Carter, one of the authors of the report while speaking with Sean Hannity on his radio program Thursday. "This is going all the way up to the top dogs in the White House… and they’re able to see it, but the congressional representative can’t see it or their aides, they don’t know they’ve been unmasked, they’re left out in the dark.”
While Intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA are prohibited from intentionally targeting American citizens while conducting foreign sweeps, it sometimes ‘incidentally' occurs. Releasing the names of those Americans is subject to strict guidelines and court procedures.
Those rules were relaxed by the Obama administration back in 2011, the report says.
These monthly dossiers are a growing sign that the intelligence community routinely ‘unmasks’ the identity of private American citizens that are surveilled in foreign intel operations without following the appropriate protocols to protect their identities.
“If they’re building up these types of dossiers on people, if they’re looking at everything that they’re doing... then I think that this elevates this to a whole new level,” Sara told Sean. “When people in power have this capability and they’re able to access private information, we have to be very, very concerned.”