Declassified document accuses CIA of bulk collection of data on Americans — Analysis

An extremely redacted letter claimed that the agency has no oversight by Congress or the judicial system.

After documents were released disclosing problems in the way the agency handles and searches for information, two US Senators accused the CIA bulk-collecting data about citizens.

In their letter, sent on April 13, 2021, but partially disclosed on Thursday, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico asked CIA Director William J. Burns and US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s (PCLOB) study into the CIA’s intelligence gathering on Americans under Executive Order 12333 – an order passed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which expanded the power of intelligence agencies.

“During your confirmation processes, you expressed a commitment to greater transparency and an appreciation for how secret interpretations of law undermine democratic oversight and pose risks to the long-term credibility of the Intelligence Community,”The senators added that before writing “the secret nature of the CIA’s activities described in the PCLOB report raise these very concerns.”

Heinrich and Wyden accused the CIA to acting “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.”

This simple fact is kept hidden from Congress as well as the public. 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

The two senators also observed that despite Congress and the American public’s longstanding desire to “prohibit the warrantless collection of Americans’ records,”The CIA is a “secretly conducted its own bulk program.”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). claimedThe newly classified documents were released on Thursday “reveal that the CIA has been secretly conducting massive surveillance programs that capture Americans’ private information,”And that surveillance was done “without any court approval, and with few, if any, safeguards imposed by Congress to protect our civil liberties.”

These reports raise grave questions about the extent to which the CIA collects bulk data from us and the ways in which it uses that information to spy upon Americans. It must be stopped.

Edward Snowden, whistleblower at the NSA calledThe accusations “huge,” writing, “This is the systematic construction of a surveillance state that will dominate the rest of our lives.”

“People brushing this off with ‘duh’ or ‘I’m not surprised’ should take this seriously: elections are months away. Vote out any politician who defends this in the slightest way,” Snowden added.

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