Senators: The CIA has a secret program that collects…

The CIA has been collecting the personal information of Americans for years as part of a covert surveillance program that does not have congressional approval, according to a recently declassified letter released by two Democratic senators, said Thursday evening.

The senses. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico mark the collection “warrantless backdoor searches.” They sent a letter to senior intelligence officials asking for more details about the program to be declassified and demanding immediate action.

The program is “entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe governs this collection, and without any judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes from [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection,” the senators wrote.

The CIA has also released parts of the still classified “Deep Dive I and Deep Dive II” programs, which are considered massive data repositories – albeit in heavily redacted documents.

The CIA has a secret, undisclosed data repository that includes information collected on Americans, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said.

The senators invoked “the clear intent of Congress, expressed over many years and through multiple pieces of legislation, to limit and, in some cases, prohibit the warrantless collection of U.S. records, as well as the intense public interest in supporting these legislative elections. efforts. And yet, throughout this period, the CIA secretly carried out its own mass agenda” – with the next bit of text in their letter blacked out.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent the letter requesting information about the program on April 13, 2021 — but it wasn’t declassified until Thursday and much of it redacted.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Council had provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with a report on the program in March 2021.

According to Wyden and Heinrich’s letter, the CIA’s mass collection program operates outside of laws passed and reformed by Congress, but under the authority of Executive Order 12333, the document that largely governs the activity of the intelligence community. intelligence and was first signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

They asked the CIA to inform the public, to reveal the type of information collected, the amount obtained and the frequency of searches. “This declassification is urgent,” Wyden and Heinrich wrote.

Neither the agency nor lawmakers released details of the data, but the senators alleged that the CIA had long withheld details about the program from the public and Congress.

It is not known when the surveillance took place or what type of data was extracted from the Americans.

Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico sent a letter to senior intelligence officials asking for more details about the program to be declassified.  Large portions have been redacted

Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico sent a letter to senior intelligence officials asking for more details about the program to be declassified. Large portions have been redacted

There have long been concerns about information the intelligence community gathers domestically, in part due to past violations of Americans’ civil liberties.

The senators wrote in response to the partial release of the data, “FISA is getting all the attention due to periodic Congressional reauthorizations” and the release of documents.

“But what these documents demonstrate is that many of the same concerns that Americans have about their privacy and civil liberties also apply to how the CIA collects and handles information under an executive order. executive and outside the FISA law.” In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with clandestine warrantless searches of Americans, the same problem that has raised bipartisan concerns in the context of FISA.

An intelligence official told the New York Times that the Intelligence Committee was aware of the CIA’s collection of classified data – but may not have been made aware of the report on “storage tools and to store and query this data after it is collected”.

Campaign groups criticized intelligence agencies after the senators’ letter became public and said it was an invasion of privacy.

The ACLU said, “These reports raise serious questions about what information the CIA collects on a massive scale and how the agency uses that information to spy on Americans.” This invasion of our privacy must stop.

The CIA and the National Security Agency have a mission overseas and are generally not authorized to investigate Americans or American companies. But the spy agencies’ sprawling collection of foreign communications often traps messages and data from Americans.

Intelligence agencies are required to take steps to protect American information, including removing the names of all Americans from reports unless they are deemed relevant to an investigation. The process of removing redactions is known as “unmasking”.

“The CIA recognizes and takes very seriously our obligation to respect the privacy and civil liberties of American people in the conduct of our vital national security mission,” said Kristi Scott, Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer for the CIA. agency, in a press release. “The CIA is committed to transparency in accordance with our obligation to protect sources and methods of intelligence.”

The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations on the program issued by an oversight committee known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Council. According to the document, a pop-up warns CIA analysts using the program that seeking information on US citizens or other individuals covered by privacy laws requires a foreign intelligence objective.

“However, analysts are not required to memorize the rationale for their queries,” the board said.

Both senators have long called for more transparency from intelligence agencies. Nearly a decade ago, a question Wyden posed to the nation’s spy chief foreshadowed critical revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.

The Democratic senator from New Mexico said details of the program should be made public

Wyden has consistently pushed for more transparency from intelligence agencies

Heinrich (left) and Wyden (right) said details of the program should be made public and called for more transparency from intelligence agencies

The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations on the program issued by an oversight committee known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Council.

The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations on the program issued by an oversight committee known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Council.

Both senators have long called for more transparency from intelligence agencies.  Nearly a decade ago, a question Wyden posed to the nation's spy chief foreshadowed critical revelations about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.

Both senators have long called for more transparency from intelligence agencies. Nearly a decade ago, a question Wyden posed to the nation’s spy chief foreshadowed critical revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.

In 2013, Wyden asked then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the NSA collected “any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper initially replied “No”. He later said, “Not consciously.”

Later that year, former system administrator Edward Snowden exposed the NSA’s access to bulk data via US internet companies and hundreds of millions of call records from telecommunications providers. These revelations sparked global controversy and new legislation in Congress.

Clapper would later apologize in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling his response to Wyden “clearly in error.”

“It is essential that Congress not legislate without knowledge of a CIA program, and that the American public not be misled into believing that the reforms of any reauthorization legislation fully cover the collection of their records by the IC,” the senators wrote in their letter. There was a redaction in the letter before “CIA Program”.

Additional documents released by the CIA on Thursday also revealed limited details of a financial data collection program against the Islamic State. This program also accidentally trapped some records held by Americans.

Intelligence agencies are subject to guidelines on handling and destroying Americans’ data. These guidelines and laws governing intelligence activities have evolved over time in response to previous revelations about domestic espionage.

The FBI spied on the American civil rights movement and secretly recorded the conversations of Dr. Martin Luther King. The CIA, in what was called Operation Chaos, investigated whether the Vietnam War opposition movement had ties to foreign countries.

“These reports raise serious questions about what kind of information the CIA collects en masse and how the agency uses that information to spy on Americans,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Patrick Toomey. in a press release. “The CIA conducts these sweeping surveillance activities without any court approval and with little or no safeguards imposed by Congress.”

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