Could this actually be true?
According to a statement released on Thursday (February 10), two Democratic Senators claim the Central Intelligence Agency has been carrying out bulk secret surveillance without approval from congress for years.
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, posted a letter sent to the director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, and CIA director William J. Burns and dated April 13, 2021. The letter attempts to gain answers about the intelligence leaders about the program.
In the partially declassified letter, the two allege the CIA has been carrying out a program that was “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 [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection.”
The program in question operates under the authority of Executive Order 12333, which broadly governs intelligence community activity after being first signed by President Ronald Reagen in 1981.
The CIA has a foreign mission and is typically prohibited from investigating Americans or U.S. businesses, although in the vast collection of foreign communication Americans’ messages and data can be captured incidentally.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Kristi Scott, the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officer, said that the agency was serious about privacy and civil liberties, saying that all collection activities had been conducted in compliance with applicable law, which included Executive Order 12333.
But the two senators continue to push for more transparency from the CIA, requesting the agency reveal the kind of records collected and the legal framework for such collection.
Following this, the CIA had previously released redacted recommendations about the program issued by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
While the senators acknowledged the recommendations, they emphasized that the “letter also stressed that the public deserves to know more about the collection of this information,” adding that they “intend to continue to urge them to achieve the transparency the American people deserve.”