News ID: 99949
Publish Date : 12 February 2022 - 21:47

Central Intelligence Agency has for years been collecting in bulk, without a warrant, some kind of data that can affect Americans’ privacy, according to a newly declassified letter by two senators.
The CIA kept censored the nature of the data when it declassified the letter. At the same time, it declared that a report about the same topic, which had prompted the letter, must remain fully classified, except for some heavily redacted recommendations.
That report, called “Deep Dive II,” was part of a set of studies by a watchdog board scrutinizing intelligence community operations under Executive Order 12333, rules for intelligence activities that Congress has left unregulated by statute. The watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and its staff members have access to classified information.
In March 2021, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a copy of the report. In a letter the next month, two Democrats on the panel, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, urged Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, and William J. Burns, the CIA director, to declassify the activity and any internal rules about querying the data for information about Americans.
“The CIA has secretly conducted its own bulk program,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
In the letter, the senators said the CIA’s program had operated outside of laws passed and reformed by Congress.
“It has done so entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with FISA collection,” they added, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“This basic fact has been kept from the public and from Congress. Until the PCLOB report was delivered last month, the nature and full extent of the CIA’s collection was withheld even from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,” they wrote in the letter, calling for the release of further information on the program.
Complaining that the CIA had not told the Intelligence Committee about the activity before, the senators suggested that its hidden existence cut against Americans’ understanding that various pieces of legislation enacted in recent years “limit and, in some cases, prohibit the warrantless collection of Americans’ records.”
After the disclosures in 2013 by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden that the National Security Agency was collecting bulk logs of all Americans’ phone calls using a disputed interpretation of the USA Patriot Act — and had until recently done the same for logs of emails — there was a period of uproar over the scope of government surveillance.

* Comment: