Declassified Docs Point to ‘Bulk Collection,’ Lawmakers Call for Transparency
In a recently declassified letter to Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines dated April 13, 2021, two U.S. senators urged transparency around alleged “bulk surveillance” conducted by the CIA. The lawmakers responded to now-declassified documents compiled by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, highlighting “problems with how the agency searches and handles Americans’ information.”
In their letter to U.S. intelligence leaders, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, requested the declassification of a related report from PCLOB on what they called a “bulk collection program.” PCLOB is an independent executive branch agency established in 2004 to advise the president and other high-ranking officials on privacy and civil liberties concerns in the U.S.
The letter, declassified late Thursday, suggests that the CIA “has secretly conducted its own bulk program,” per authority under Executive Order 12333, rather than a congressionally passed framework.
As for the program, it is currently unclear how much information on U.S. citizens was collected and how, along with when the data was collected, how long collection persisted and other identifying information.
Executive Order 12333, issued in December 1981 by then-President Ronald Reagan, extended powers of U.S. intelligence agencies and directed federal agencies to cooperate with CIA requests. It was subsequently amended to strengthen the role of the director of national intelligence, an office now held by Haines.
Wyden and Heinrich, in their letter, claim the CIA program in question was “entirely…