PPSA/Coalition Sends Letter to House Leadership: “Reject the Senate’s Intelligence Authorization Act of 2021”
The Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability (PPSA) today joined Demand Progress, the Brennan Center for Justice, ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, NAACP, FreedomWorks and almost thirty other civil liberties organizations to caution House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to reject inclusion of the Senate version of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) in any conference negotiations over the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. As the coalition letter put it, “[t]he IAA is a significant piece of legislation, which, as passed by the Senate, includes controversial provisions and entirely fails to address the many intelligence scandals that have come to light in the past year.”
The Lee-Leahy Amendment
The letter urges the House to pass an IAA that includes the Lee-Leahy Amendment, which would bring outside civil liberties expertise to the secret court of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This amendment, which won 77 votes in the Senate, would safeguard Americans’ First Amendment rights by requiring the FISA court to seek a review of “sensitive” surveillance requests by independent, outside experts. These reviews would be encouraged whenever the government seeks to use FISA surveillance against political candidates, campaigns and organizations, as well as religious groups or domestic media.
The coalition letter also asks House leaders to give Representatives a chance to:
Strip “Fourth Amendment End-Run” Section 9307 from the IAA.
This section would establish a Social Media Data and Threat Analysis Center that would bring together social media companies, journalists, academic researchers and others around “foreign influence operations.” The coalition of civil liberties organizations is concerned that the language establishing this center is so vague and lacking in safeguards that it could lead to “an end-run around the Fourth Amendment.”
Remove “Informer Program” Sec. 9505 from the Senate’s version of the IAA:
This provision, meant to give members of the public the means to report influence activities of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, “fails to provide safeguards against the reporting of baseless suspicions that Asian-Americans are foreign agents.”