(…) On Oct. 20, 2016, [Admiral Mike] Rogers was briefed by the NSA compliance officer on findings from the 702 NSA compliance audit. The audit had uncovered a large number of issues, including numerous “about query” violations (Senate testimony).
Rogers shut down all “about query” activity on Oct. 21, 2016. “About queries” are particularly worrisome, since they occur when the target is neither the sender nor the recipient of the collected communication—but the target’s “query,” such as an email address, is being passed between two other communicants.
On the same day, the DOJ and FBI sought and received a Title I FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. At this point, the FISA court still was unaware of the Section 702 violations.
Adm. Mike Rogers: I was briefed on something like October the 20th … I then, from memory, went to the Department of Justice and then on to the FISA court at the end of October—I think it was something like the 26th of October—and we informed the court: We have a compliance issue here and we’re concerned that there’s an underlying issue with the technical solution we put in place.
Sen. James Lankford: So you reported initially to the court, this is an issue, or the court initially came to you and said, we have an issue?
Rogers: I went to the court and said, we have an issue.
Rogers’s recollection was correct. On Oct. 24, 2016, Rogers verbally informed the FISA court of his findings (Page 4 of court ruling):
“On October 24, 2016, the government orally apprised the Court of significant non-compliance with the NSA’s minimization procedures involving queries of data acquired under Section 702 using U.S. person identifiers. The full scope of non-compliant querying practices had not been previously disclosed to the Court.”
Rogers appeared formally before the FISA court on Oct. 26, 2016, and presented the written findings of his audit (Page 4, 14 & 19 of Court Ruling & Senate testimony).“Two days later, on the day the Court otherwise would have had to complete its review of the certifications and procedures, the government made a written submission regarding those compliance problems… and the Court held a hearing to address them.”
“The government reported that the NSA IG and OCO were conducting other reviews covering different time periods, with preliminary results suggesting that the problem was widespread during all periods under review.”