CIA mass surveillance: the agency spied on and collected unknown data from U.S. citizens
CIA monitored and collected unknown data from some U.S. citizens through a secret mass surveillance program that the agency had kept under wraps even from the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to The Wall Street Journal, after the committee learned of the program, senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich wrote a letter to the agency in April of last year asking for clarification.
The letter sent to the CIA from the senators urged the intelligence agency to inform the citizens about the extent and scope of the surveillance program. Before a full report was delivered to the committee in March 2021, even the Senate Intelligence Committee didn’t know what kind of data the agency was collecting.
The matter of the CIA collecting data from American citizens is particularly concerning since the agency is, in most cases, not allowed to spy on U.S. citizens. According to the letter by Senators Wyden and Heinrich, the CIA operated, “entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”
However, decade-old laws allow the agencies to collect domestic data that can be potentially linked to the primary target. Kristi Scott, privacy and civil liberties officer at the CIA, explained the legality of the agency’s surveillance program as,”[CIA] conducts our activities, including collection activities, in compliance with U.S. law, Executive Order 12333, and our Attorney General guidelines.”