NEWS & ANALYSIS

REPORT: Declassified Documents Claim CIA Secretly Collected Americans’ Private Data


Two Democratic U.S. Senators on Thursday accused the CIA of collecting Americans’ private data without official oversight meant to protect against civil liberties violations. 

As reported by the Daily Caller, Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich wrote a letter in April of 2021 demanding that CIA director William J. Burns and the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines declassify a study into the CIA’s secret procedure for gathering data on Americans. 

The CIA’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board commissioned the study to “conduct in-depth examinations” of the data collection process, according to the declassified report.

The board is tasked with ensuring intelligence agencies don’t violate the privacy and civil liberties of Americans while collecting data during terrorism investigations. 

The lawmakers accused the CIA of working “outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional, or even executive branch oversight that comes from FISA collection,” their press release reads. 

While the letter and documents released by the CIA were redacted, the information highlighted “serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans,” the lawmakers said. 

“While we appreciate the release of the ‘Recommendations from PCLOB Staff’ which highlights problems associated with the handling of Americans’ information, our letter also stressed that the public deserves to know more about the collection of this information,” Wyden and Heinrich said. 

They argued the CIA has “secretly conducted its own bulk program.”