When passing a law, lawmakers can’t in any circumstances ignore how the law will react on their voting members. Especially, when the law will enable a major Internet and telephone spying program that steals important information about tax paying American citizens.
Unfortunately, that is indeed what the Intelligence Community (IC) carefully wants from Congress when it is dealing with the reauthorization of a sweeping electronic surveillance authority under the expiring Section 702, as enacted by the FISA Amendments Act, before the end of the year.
Congress has been promised a servitude of lawmakers by the Intelligence Community with an estimate of the number of American communications that are collected under Section 702. Lawmakers’ need that estimate because is a crucial information when they are considering if and how to reauthorize the warrantless Internet surveillance of law-abiding American citizens.
Dan Coats Director of National Intelligence during a hearing on Section 702 in presence of the Senate Intelligence Committee against all assurances announces that he will not be administering that estimate because of national security and privacy reasons.
Dan Coat informed lawmakers that it is “infeasible to generate an exact, accurate, meaningful, and responsive methodology that can count how often a U.S. person’s communications may be incidentally collected under Section 702.” Doing that means taking NSA analysts’ attention away from their current work to run additional research to resolve if the communications collected under Section 702 are indeed American. “I would be asking trained NSA analysts to conduct intense identity verification research on potential U.S. persons who are not targets of an investigation, from a privacy and civil liberties perspective, I find this unpalatable.”
Asking Congress to reauthorize a surveillance program that will compromise American citizen’s information is a delusional act of the Intelligence Community. Once again privacy will be ignored without first following on the promise reiterated by Coats in order to expand the information about how the program will affect Americans. The IC ironically claims their actions are in the name of privacy.
If the Intelligence Community is concerned about the privacy of U.S. citizens as it claims it is, officials will provide the lawmakers with the necessary information they need to debate and thoroughly research the government spying programs affecting citizens privacy.
Coats was criticized for his actions by Privacy advocate Sen. Ron Wyden. A “very, very damaging position to stake out” Commented Ron Wyden about Coats’ actions. He also sends a warning to Coats that many Americans will not be satisfied with the security and liberty problems. “We are going to battle it out in the course of this” says Wyden.
Congress’ debate over Section 702 is in the works and is getting intense, join the battle and defend your privacy and liberty.