PPSA Files Freedom of Information Act Requests: Are Members of Two Congressional Committees Being Surveilled?
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Washington’s intelligence community – the FBI, CIA, NSA, ODNI, the Department of Justice and the Department of State. This request demands information related to the possible electronic surveillance of Members of Congress serving on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
PPSA was prompted to file these requests after CATO Institute fellow Patrick Eddington filed FOIA requests to learn if the FBI collected national security or intelligence records on 23 civil liberties organizations. These organizations were alarmed when Eddington reported he received what is officially known as Glomar responses, a non-response/response in which the agencies can “neither affirm nor deny” the requested information.
“If such luminaries as the CATO Institute and Restore the Fourth might be subject to federal surveillance, is it possible that the intelligence community is also spying on Members of Congress?” asked Gene Schaerr, PPSA general counsel. “If we receive Glomar responses to these requests about members of the intelligence committees, that non-response itself will be a very telling answer.”
PPSA specifically requested all “documents, reports, memoranda, or communications” regarding the unmasking or upstreaming of any member of these two committees since 2008.
In the past, the intelligence community has been reluctant to disclose whether Congressmen or Senators have been unmasked or upstreamed, even to Members of Congress themselves.
“PPSA does not naïvely expect any answers except Glomar responses,” Schaerr said. “But a refusal by the intelligence community to answer whether they have surveilled Congress should clearly indicate that there is something here worth investigating.”