The CIA Just Got Caught Illegally Spying on Americans – Again

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has come under fire after classified documents revealed that they had been secretly gathering information on American citizens for decades, without oversight from Congress.

Jaxx Ziegler
By Jaxx Ziegler
7 Min Read
The CIA Just Got Caught Illegally Spying on Americans - Again
Image: Adobe Stock

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was publicly scrutinised on February 10th 2022 after recently declassified documents revealed that the agency had been secretly collecting information on American civilians. Without supervision from Congress, law enforcement and the courts – or any branch of the American government. 

Since 1947, the CIA has asserted their national security efforts in what some would call the most unprincipled manner possible. And this recent discovery continues to show us an unembellished perspective when prying into the skeletons that the CIA keep locked firmly in its closet.

The report filed due to the CIA’s inappropriate use of policy by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) in March 2021 – dubbed “Deep Dive II” –  was handed to the senate in April 2021 by US Senators Ron Wyden, the dean of Oregon’s congressional delegation and Sen. Martin Heinrich, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. 

The senators expressed their concerns in a statement, saying “we are writing to request an expedited declassification review of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s (PCLOB’s) Executive Order 12333 Central Intelligence Agency Deep Dive II”. Going on to add “this basic fact has been kept from congress. Until the PCLOB report was delivered last month, the nature and full extent of the CIA’s collection was withheld even from the senate select committee on intelligence.”

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Declassified documents

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released a statement expressing a list of recommendations regarding the concerns regarding the CIA’s potentially illegal activities. Saying “the following staff-level recommendations are a result of the Privacy and Civil Liberties oversight board’s review of one CIA counterterrorism activity conducted pursuant to Executive Order 12333’’. Adding “the substance of the report (Deep Dive II) remains fully classified and cannot be released publicly.”

Externally, this is not Sen. Wyden’s first encounter with the CIA. Sen. Wyden sat in congress before the former director of the CIA, John O. Brennan, in 2016 with regard to an “improper and unauthorized search of US Senate files.” In the live C-SPAN broadcast of the congressional hearing, Sen. Wyden articulates distinctively his concerns over the CIA’s improper use of not only files but personal senate staff emails regarding the investigation of the CIA’s use of torture. 

Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Martin Heinrich's request for expedited declassification of the CIA's mass collection program documents - Image Credit: United States Senate
Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Martin Heinrich’s request for expedited declassification of the CIA’s mass collection program documents – Image Credit: United States Senate

The review board appointed by Director Brennan concluded that “the improper search of senate files resulted in inappropriate access to the committee’s work product.” And yet, Director Brennan initially denied the search ever taking place. The independent executive agency also revealed concerns over the presence of the CIA’s “bulk collection” of documents, regarding a formally secretive operation under Executive Order 12333 – a bill signed by Former President Ronald Regan in 1981.

A letter dated April 13th 2021, was publicly released along with the bulk documents sent by the two senators, addressed to Mr Avril. D. Haines – the Director of National Intelligence – and Mr William J. Burns – the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency – made a direct attempt to administer immediate action over the “Deep Dive II,” conducted by PCLOB.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has long tackled government surveillance. In fact, the PCLOB last published its review of the intelligence community’s warrantless surveillance of internet browsers in 2014; with “Deep Dive II” being the “sequel” to this 2014 investigation.

However, Director Brennan’s Inspector General and Review Board both stated that his denial was “at odds with the facts.” Not to mention, in the same congressional hearing, Sen. Wyden argued that the CIA’s compatriots agreed with Wyden’s complaints of Brennan’s unprecedented acts.

Conclusively, the April 13th letter written by Senators Wyden and Heinrich presents us with several demonstrations in its closing statement: “Among the many details the public deserves to know are the nature of the CIA’s relationship with its sources and the legal framework for the collection; the kind of records collected, the amount of Americans records maintained and the rules governing this use.”

The externalities of the agency’s improper and deceitful procedures are proven to be undiplomatic. As quoted in the letter addressed to Haines and Burns, “what these documents demonstrate is that many of the same concerns that Americans have about their privacy and civil liberties also apply to how the CIA collects and handles information under executive order and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act law.”

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Edward Snowden similarities

We are reminded of the 2013 global surveillance disclosures made by whistle-blower and former intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, in which the public, press and the mainstream media (MSM) were first formally informed of the National Security Agency (NSA’s) secretive and bulk collecting of logs.

Also revealing the likes of numerous global surveillance programs and complicit members of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada & the United States) – along with the chilling cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.

In the words spoken by Sen. Wyden in the 2016 congressional hearing “when you are talking about spying on a committee responsible for overseeing your agency, in my opinion, that undermines the very checks and balances that protect our democracy.”

Jaxx Ziegler
Posted by Jaxx Ziegler Investigative Journalist
Jaxx Ziegler is an Australian-based freelance journalist for CONTX Media, focusing on deep topics like big tech censorship, mass surveillance, history and the psychedelic mind.
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