Senators Uncover Secret CIA Programme Collecting Americans’ Data Without Any Oversight

© AFP 2023 / SAUL LOEBThe Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
Although it is ostensibly tasked with collecting intelligence overseas, the Central Intelligence Agency has been known to secretly amass information on ordinary Americans going back to the 1950s, with some of its unconstitutional activities documented in the findings of the Church Committee in 1975.
The CIA has been quietly and potentially illegally collecting bulk data on Americans and storing it in a secret repository without any oversight from the government or Congress, a pair of senators have alleged.
In a letter sent to CIA Director William Burns and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines dated 13 April 2021 and released in redacted form on Thursday, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich demanded the declassification of a review by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) on CIA ‘counterterrorism’-related data collection programmes dubbed ‘Deep Dive I’ and ‘Deep Dive II’.
The ‘Deep Dive’ programmes became possible following the signing of Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era security directive allowing for data to be collected en masse and shared with the CIA, ostensibly in the interests of ‘national security’.
“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 secret nature of the CIA’s activities described in the PCLOB report raise these very concerns,” the senators, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote.
Wyden and Heinrich suggested that Congress had demonstrated over the years a “clear intent, expressed over many years and through multiple pieces of legislation, to limit and, in some cases prohibit the warrantless collection of Americans’ records…And yet, throughout this period, the CIA has secretly conducted its own bulk program [redacted]. 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 [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection.”
“Among the many details the public deserves to know are the nature of the CIA’s relationship with its sources and the legal framework for the collection; the kinds of records collected [redacted], the amount of Americans’ records maintained; and the rules governing the use, storage, dissemination and queries (including US person queries) of the records,” the lawmakers' appeal stressed.
Central Intelligence Agency - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.01.2022
CIA Reportedly Creates Plan to Slap Russian Raw Materials, Arms Exports With Sanctions Worth $50 Bln
Along with the letter, which was published on Wyden’s website on Thursday, the CIA released on its site a redacted version of a letter containing six PCLOB recommendations on Deep Dive, with these encouraging the agency to implement guidelines to “specifically address how the CIA classifies this collection and the retention period (or factors relevant to determining the retention period) that applies to the data that is the subject of [a] deep dive.”
The watchdog’s report included five other seemingly mundane recommendations, such as the need for written justification for probes into US persons, to have a designated PCLOB officer design a framework to address issues related to such queries, to “develop a strategy for addressing” records subject to deep dives, to “conduct periodic efficacy assessments” and “consider the adoption of automated tools to assist with the auditing, oversight, and compliance of matters or issues related to” deep dives probing US nationals.
A heavily-redacted PCLOB report on the CIA collection of financial information related to “activities in support of ISIL*-related Counterterrorism Efforts” was also declassified, and mentioned the “incidental collection” of data on American citizens.
Aerial view of a building used by CIA to house prisoners in Vilnius, Lithuania, January 20, 2022, Picture taken on January 20, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.01.2022
Lithuania Prepares to Sell Former CIA ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ Site Where Abu Zubaydah Was Tortured
The CIA issued a statement alongside the releases, insisting that the agency “recognises and takes very seriously our obligation to respect the privacy and civil liberties of US persons in the conduct of our vital national security mission.”
Wyden and Heinrch issued their own press statement, saying the documents serve to “demonstrate…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 executive order and outside the FISA law. In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans, the same issue that has generated bipartisan concern in the FISA context.”
The American Civil Liberties Union blasted the CIA’s methods, suggesting the new information raises “raise serious questions about what information of ours the CIA is vacuuming up in bulk and how the agency exploits that information to spy on Americans. This invasion of our privacy must stop.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, compared the CIA’s bulk collection methods to those used by the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programmes – whose extent was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013.
While its primary mission includes the collection of foreign intelligence, as well as regime change operations, terrorist attacks and assassinations of foreign nationals, the CIA has also been implicated in domestic spying on US citizens going back to the 1950s. During the 1960s, the agency put together a computerised database on some 300,000 American persons and organisations associated with efforts to stop the Vietnam War. In 1975, a US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, better known as the Church Committee, revealed that the CIA and other intelligence agencies engaged in a host of unconstitutional domestic spying activities, grotesque medical experiments, and media and cultural influence operations.
Ski competition in Nazi Germany, 1939. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.01.2022
Future CIA Chief Dulles May Have Inspired Nazis to Spread Myth of Secret Fortress, Historian Claims
* ISIL, aka ISIS, aka Islamic State aka Daesh is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала