Senators Express Concern Over CIA Data Collecting

Two senators say declassified documents show a CIA program that collects data from Americans has no one to oversee it. The unidentified program was one of two listed as a “repository” of confidential material in the CIA’s Deep Dive I and II reports. 

The CIA defended itself in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

Meanwhile, two Democrat members of the Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, said the CIA did wrong things.


No Prior Knowledge

The senators’ unidentified initiative in Deep Dive II appears to be tied to national security activities. The second module in Deep Dive I was about obtaining financial data about ISIS.

Despite being on the Intelligence Committee, Wyden and Heinrich said they didn’t know about the program until just last year.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board stated it would investigate the two projects in 2014. In the end, the Deep Dive I and II studies evaluated the programs’ impacts on liberty.

That study was requested by Wyden and Heinrich last year in a letter to CIA Director William Burns. The senators demanded more openness about the CIA’s mass collection.

“FISA gets so much attention because Congress periodically reauthorizes it and releases DOJ, ODNI, and FISA court documents,” Wyden and Heinrich said.

This evidence shows many Americans’ same worries about privacy rights apply to how the CIA gathers and handles data outside of FISA law.

These files show profound issues with unlawful backdoor lookups of Americans, a concern shared by both parties in the FISA context.

Unlawful Monitoring from the CIA?

The CIA said both reports had two components. These components entail a redacted version of Deep Dive I that was made public. Meanwhile, the first segment of Deep Dive II, about an unnamed initiative, was not made public.

A revised version of Deep Dive II’s second section with staff guidelines was released.

The CIA said the programs were approved by President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12333. This executive order requires other intel agencies to share information with the CIA.

The CIA said in a Q&A that it kept Congress “advised” of its activities and was working to implement the Deep Dive reports’ recommendations.

The initiative has renewed concerns about the intelligence community’s monitoring of Americans and possible civil liberties violations. The ACLU said Congress should end such programs.

“These revelations raise serious concerns about the CIA’s bulk collection of data and its use of that data to spy on Americans. The CIA conducts broad surveillance without court approval and with few, if any, congressional safeguards.”

“An unlawfully ‘backdoor search’ of Americans’ data is illegal and should be ended by Congress,” National Security Task senior staff attorney Patrick Toomey said.