New reports reveal the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been conducting a secret, bulk surveillance program on American citizens.

Background: The program operates under the authority of Executive Order 12333 first signed by President Reagan in 1981, the document broadly governs intelligence community activity.

On April 13, 2021, Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich who both serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee posted a letter to Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, and William J. Burns, the CIA director, in an effort to learn more about that program.

What Happened: The letter was partially declassified on Thursday.

The CIA has been accused of acting “entirely 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 with FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection.”

What The CIA Says: Kristi Scott, the agency’s privacy and civil liberties officer, said in a statement, “CIA 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, and conducts our activities, including collection activities, in compliance with U.S. law, Executive Order 12333, and our Attorney General guidelines,” “CIA is committed to transparency consistent with our obligation to protect intelligence sources and methods.” (per The Wall Street Journal)

What The Senators Say: The two senators said while they appreciate the recommendations their “letter also stressed that the public deserves to know more about the collection of this information.  The DNI and the CIA Director have started this process.  We intend to continue to urge them to achieve the transparency the American people deserve.” (per Fox News)

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