WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil rights organizations sent a letter today to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats urging the agency to reconsider its decision to not release the number of Americans impacted by NSA surveillance under Section 702. The groups also sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee asking them to use every tool at their disposal to get this information. The NSA announced last week that it won’t be releasing the numbers, walking back a long-held promise, while the Trump administration backed the permanent reauthorization of 702 as it currently stands. Section 702 allows the government to surveil Americans in contact with foreign targets without a warrant.
Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, said:
“Members of Congress should be outraged that the NSA has reneged on its commitment to provide an estimate of the number of Americans that the NSA spies on under Section 702, and should use every tool at their disposal to demand that this information be provided.
“The executive branch has provided no credible explanation for their abrupt reversal in position, which comes after months of discussions with Congressional staff on methodologies to obtain the exact information that they now claim is impossible to determine. This decision is not rooted in practicalities, but rather part of an overall effort to withhold key information about Section 702 while the program is being debated in Congress.”
The letters are available here: