Senators Patrick Leahy And Mike Lee Press Intelligence And Justice Dept. Leaders On Surveillance PowersSenators Patrick Leahy And Mike Lee Press Intelligence And Justice Dept. Leaders On Surveillance Powers

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) Thursday asked the Director of National Intelligence and the Acting Attorney General to report on the government’s implementation of surveillance authorities granted in the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, which was authored by the two senators.  The USA FREEDOM Act imposed substantial reforms on the government’s foreign intelligence surveillance powers, including to a controversial telephone metadata program that allowed for the bulk collection of Americans’ personal information.  A number of these authorities are currently scheduled to expire in exactly one year from now, in December 2019.

In their letter, Leahy and Lee ask the government to explain how recent changes in Supreme Court caselaw, and the National Security Agency’s (NSA) report of a massive compliance problem earlier this year, have affected implementation of these powerful surveillance authorities.  The senators also asked the officials to report how certain key statutory terms were being defined, and whether the government had asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to rule on any related novel legal issues.

Leahy and Lee also asked the officials to provide certain information about the NSA’s call detail record (CDR) program, which the government has not to date provided, despite a statutory obligation to do so.  The senators wrote:  “As you know, the law requires a ‘good faith estimate of’ this information (emphasis added), which should be possible even with these technical limitations.  Without this information, it is difficult for the American people, and Congress, to evaluate how broadly the CDR program may impact privacy and civil liberties.”

The full text of the senators’ letter is below.  A PDF copy is available here.

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