PPSA Sues Six Intelligence Agencies to Produce Records: Have NSA, FBI, CIA Surveilled Members of Congress Who Oversee Them?
The Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability (PPSA) today filed suit against the Department of Justice and FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State seeking records that would reveal if these agencies have been surveilling current and former Members of Congress with oversight responsibility of these agencies.
Almost fifty Members are named as being potentially surveilled in the lawsuit. They range across all political leanings, from House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff to former Rep. Trey Gowdy, from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to Sen. Marco Rubio.
PPSA had filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with these six agencies as early as January 27, 2020. The law requires these agencies to give a timely and substantive response, either the prompt release of the requested documents, or an explanation of why these records are excluded from a FOIA request by statute.
“Their silence speaks volumes,” said Gene Schaerr, PPSA general counsel. “They clearly do not want to answer our requests.”
The FOIA request concerns two intelligence practices under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and its Section 702, which allows foreign surveillance but forbids spying on “U.S. persons” located inside the United States.
The secret FISA court released an opinion stating that in the 2016 election cycle some Americans had their names upstreamed, in violation of government policy. That opinion described the upstreaming of Americans as raising a “serious Fourth Amendment issue.”
The list of 48 current and former members of committees with intelligence oversight responsibility includes: