As Lawfare readers know, someone in government leaked the news that Michael Flynn did indeed discuss sanctions in his post-election phone calls with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. The leaker presumably knew this because the U.S. government surveils the Russian ambassador’s phone calls, a practice permitted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As others have explained in recent days, the minimization procedures required by FISA almost certainly allowed intelligence officials to disseminate this information to others within the government without masking Flynn’s identity.
Yet this case remains troubling, as Tim Edgar argued earlier this week. Even if one agrees that FISA and the applicable minimization procedures were likely observed here, that should be the beginning, not the end, of the analysis.
First, the headline here is that information about an American from foreign-intelligence intercepts was leaked in order to damage that American. That the information was lawfully acquired and appropriately disseminated within the government is good to know, but is hardly reassuring given that this classified information was then illegally leaked.
Read the full article at Lawfare.