Tag Archives: Clapper

Senators Allege Secret CIA Program Collecting Data on Americans, Call for Declassification

Sophie Mann
February 11th, 2022

Two Democrat senators are alleging the CIA has a secret data trove that includes information collected about Americans.

In a letter sent to the clandestine agency, the senators allege the CIA has long hidden details about the program from the public and the legislative branch, according to the Associated Press.

Sens. Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Martin Heinrich, of New Mexico, called for a declassification of the program, though significant parts of their letter, sent in April 2021, were redacted.

The lawmakers say they think the program operated “outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.”

Though the CIA, the country’s top spy operation and the National Security Agency, are typically barred from monitoring U.S. citizens and businesses, the agencies’ focus on foreign communications sometimes encapsulates messages and data incidentally belonging to Americans. 

The CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officer, Kristi Scott, said the agency “recognizes and takes very seriously our obligation to respect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons in the conduct of our vital national security mission. CIA is committed to transparency consistent with our obligation to protect intelligence sources and methods.”

Wyden and Heinrich have historically been advocates for transparency among the U.S. intelligence agencies. Years ago, Wyden asked then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the NSA was collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Clapper initially responded “no,” but then said, “not wittingly.”

The lawmakers’ letter emphasizes the importance of congressional awareness of CIA data collection programs to properly legislate.

They also argue it is important that “the American public not be misled into believe that the reforms in any reauthorization legislation fully cover the [U.S. intelligence community’s] collection of their records.”

Subpoenas of Comey, Brennan Being Held Up in GOP Committee: Sen. Johnson

August 12, 2020

GOP senators on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee may be holding up subpoenas for former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and other figures who were involved in the investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, said Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

“We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” the Wisconsin GOP senator told radio host Hugh Hewitt. He was asked by Hewitt to identify those Republicans by name.

But Johnson said, “I’m just not going to be naming names that way.” Johnson had been pressing to issue the subpoenas for the former Obama administration officials.

Johnson’s committee authorized him in early June to issue subpoenas as part of the inquiry into the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s campaign.

In the interview, Johnson said that he needs the support of eight Republicans to advance subpoenas in the case.

Johnson emphasized that he needs the unanimous support of his committee’s eight Republicans to advance any subpoenas—one defection would likely result in a 7-7 deadlock with the committee’s six Democrats. “If I lose one, I lose the vote,” Johnson said.

The Republicans currently on the panel include Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Rand Paul (Ky.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Rick Scott (Fla.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), and Josh Hawley (Mo.).

A spokesperson for Johnson later told Politico that Johnson’s exchange with Hewitt was a misunderstanding, saying that he is “committed to running a thorough investigation.”

Epoch Times Photo
FBI Director James Comey testifies as Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates listens during Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 8, 2015. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“Committee members want Chairman Johnson to attempt to get voluntary compliance, and also to be fully prepared for interviews by obtaining necessary documents, before compelling testimony,” the spokesman told the website. “Chairman Johnson has been working for months to gather documents and information from witnesses on a voluntary basis, but will subpoena witnesses when necessary—and as he has mentioned, his patience is wearing thin.”

On Tuesday, Johnson told Fox News that he subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray as part of the committee’s review of the Russia investigation.

“Certainly my committee granted me the subpoena authorization to try and get everybody’s voluntary compliance, but it simply hasn’t worked,” he said on the channel. “The FBI continues to slow-walk our requests for documents, which really date back years.”

An investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, where FBI agents investigated Trump’s campaign on alleged collusion with Russian agents, is being carried out by the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The investigation was carried out by former special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who found that there was no evidence Trump coordinated and cooperated with the Kremlin.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect Johnson’s clarification on the matter.