Senators Blast CIA Secret Program That's Still Sweeping Up Americans' Data

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 11, 2022 - 09:40 PM

Almost a decade after NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden with the help of journalists Glen Greenwald and Laura Poitras exposed that the National Security Agency had long swept up American citizens' communications in a flagrant and persistent violation of citizens' Fourth Amendment rights, it was revealed late Thursday night that the CIA has long had its own secret domestic spy program that collects American data. 

New documents have just been declassified after a Senate inquiry into the data collection program. According to the Associated Press on Friday, "The CIA has a secret, undisclosed data repository that includes information collected about Americans, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said. While neither the agency nor lawmakers would disclose specifics about the data, the senators alleged the CIA had long hidden details about the program from the public and Congress."

The senators charged that the secret program has been operating "outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection" - which also without doubt means mass data collection without any level of court authorization, judicial review, or individual warrants. 

Further, the Central Intelligence Agency as the foreign intel collection wing of the federal government is barred from operating on domestic soil or investigating Americans, which remains the purview of the FBI. CIA officers have no legal jurisdiction whatsoever, especially when it comes to US citizens.

The efforts of some in Congress to gain greater awareness and transparency of domestic programs and abuses done by US intelligence agencies stems back to the 2013 Snowden revelations. Senators Wyden and Heinrich issued the following statement on the new revelations:

"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 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 AP further details of the senators' letter that "the CIA’s bulk collection program operates outside of laws passed and reformed by Congress, but under the authority of Executive Order 12333, the document that broadly governs intelligence community activity and was first signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981."

The CIA reportedly attempts to give scant legal covert to its analysts via a mere pop-up box, which still allows for the individual discretion of the individual analyst or intelligence officer...

The CIA released a series of redacted recommendations about the program issued by an oversight panel known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. According to the document, a pop-up box warns CIA analysts using the program that seeking any information about U.S. citizens or others covered by privacy laws requires a foreign intelligence purpose.

"However, analysts are not required to memorialize the justification for their queries," the board said.

Snowden meanwhile, called the ongoing illegal and unconstitutional intelligence collection programs sweeping up Americans' data "the systematic construction of a surveillance state that will dominate the rest of our lives." 

He said that while many will brush this off as no surprise, all Americans "should take this seriously" given also "elections are months away". He urged on Twitter to "vote out any politician who defendst this in the slightest way. 

In a separate follow-up statement, Snowden warned, "The CIA is not your friend. The CIA is not a friend of the United States. The CIA is a friend of power, and power alone."