Senators want more transparency on CIA program that included mass data collection

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Two US senators have said the CIA needs to be more transparent about a recently revealed agency program involving the bulk collection of data, including information on certain Americans.

The existence of the program was made public on Thursday when an April 2021 letter to the CIA from Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich has been declassified in heavily redacted form. In that letter, Wyden and Heinrich, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, requested the declassification of a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Council on a CIA mass collection program. They also requested that the letter itself be declassified.

The letter as published, which has large blacked-out sections, does not reveal what kind of data was collected or when, and does not say whether the program is still in effect. The letter notes that the massive data collection was authorized by executive order, rather than Congress, and conducted without oversight by Congress or the judicial or executive branches.

In a statement Thursday, the senators stressed the importance of the oversight board’s report.

“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 law (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act),” the senators said.

Wyden and Heinrich said the CIA needed to reveal more details, including the type of documents collected and the legal basis for the collection, adding that the PCLOB report noted problems with the CIA’s handling and retrieval of information. Americans under the program.

The CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Kristi Scott, the agency’s chief privacy and civil liberties officer, said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that the CIA “recognizes and takes very seriously” its obligation to “respect privacy and civil liberties.” American people”.

The CIA is “committed to transparency consistent with our obligation to protect sources and methods of intelligence,” the statement added.

Although the CIA is generally banned from domestic spying, some mass data-gathering operations can gather information about Americans, something lawmakers on both sides have long raised over privacy concerns.

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