Privacy, Threat Management

Secret CIA data gathering program on Americans disclosed

CNN reports that the CIA has run a secret intelligence program outside authorities given by Congress that has collected information on Americans tantamount to "serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches," according to a letter sent by Senate Intelligence Committee members Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Martin Heinrich, N.M. to CIA Director Bill Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines last April, which had only been declassified on Thursday. Wyden and Heinrich noted that the CIA's collection and analysis of data of Americans are outside the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which it operates. "FISA gets all the attention because of the periodic congressional reauthorizations and the release of [Department of Justice], [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] and FISA Court documents. 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," said the lawmakers. However, a CIA spokesperson insisted that the agency may obtain data from Americans connected with foreign nationals. "When the CIA acquires information about Americans, it safeguards that information in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, which restrict the CIA's ability to collect, retain, use, and disseminate the information," the spokesperson said.

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