Just today, in an attempt to learn more about the NSA’s surveillance programs, 14 legislators from congress (eight Democrats and six Republicans) have sent a letter directed to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence.
Asking for an estimate of how many Americans citizens are having their private data collected, the letter is an attempt to better understand how section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and it’s invasive programs such as PRISM are being used. It’s an important figure to know.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 is a United States federal law which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” (which may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of espionage or terrorism). – Wikipedia
PRISM is a clandestine surveillance program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects internet communications from at least nine major US internet companies. Since 2001 the United States government has increased its scope for such surveillance, and so this program was launched in 2007.
Having never received figures on the number of persons being monitored, Congress has decided to just ask…again. Being the ones who actually passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, they have a right to know how it’s being used in some form.
Even an estimate would help ease the minds of Congress and the american people. Is it in the hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands, millions? The fact that the NSA has been so quite about the number for over five years only brings up concerns.
Being called the FOREIGN intelligence surveillance act, you’d think the number of americans being spied on is zero…but that’s obviously not the case as they’ve reserved the right to spy on Americans within the act.
“The last time Congress tried to hold an intelligence agency accountable for its actions, the CIA literally broke into the congressional offices of the people investigating it, a gross violation of democratic norms for which the agency has still faced no repercussions.” – The Verge
All that’s left is to wait and see if the NSA replies to Congress’s letter. Are these security agencies such as the NSA, CIA and FBI out of control? Have they become more powerful than the governments they work for? There need to be checks and balances in every branch of government, even secretive agencies.
There is no reason they can’t/shouldn’t provide us with a number of sorts. It’s not even asking much. They should be thankful Congress and the American people don’t demand a whole lot more information.
Letter to Director Clapper Show Below: