Congressional Reps Tell NSA To Cease Sharing Unminimized Data With Domestic Law Enforcement Agencies

from the the-fed's-Big-Brother-program:-'adopt'-a-domestic-agency! dept

The FBI announced (without going into verifiable detail) that it had implemented new minimization procedures for handling information tipped to it by the NSA's Prism dragnet. Oddly, this announcement arrived nearly simultaneously with the administration's announcement that it was expanding the FBI's intake of unminimized domestic communications collected by the NSA.

So, which was it? Was the FBI applying more minimization or was it gaining more raw access? The parties involved have so far refused to offer any further details on either of the contradictory plans, save for vague assurances about the lawfulness of both options.

Fortunately, a few legislators have stepped up to do something about it. Megan Geuss of Ars Technica reports that Reps. Ted Lieu and Blake Farenthold have sent a letter to the NSA telling it to hold off on its plans to share unminimized data and communications with domestic intelligence agencies… at least until it's been discussed publicly.

We respectfully request you confirm whether the NSA intends to routinely provide intelligence information-collected without a warrant-to domestic law enforcement agencies. If the NSA intends to go down this uncharted path, we request that you stop. The proposed shift in the relationship between our intelligence agencies and the American people should not be done in secret. The American people deserve a public debate. The United States has a long standing principle of keeping our intelligence and military spy apparatus focused on foreign adversaries and not the American people.
The letter points out that while Congress has granted the NSA "extraordinary authority" to conduct warrantless surveillance and harvest massive amounts of data, it has not done so for domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies. But that deliberate limitation of powers has been undone by the administration's expansion. It may be indirect -- requiring the assistance of the NSA -- but it accomplishes the same purpose: giving warrantless surveillance and bulk collection powers to domestic agencies by proxy.

The letter -- sent to the heads of a variety of Congressional committees -- pulls no punches in its comparative depiction of this overreach.
We believe allowing the NSA to be used as an arm of domestic law enforcement is unconstitutional. Our country has always drawn a line between our military and intelligence services, and domestic policing and spying. We do not -- and should not -- use U.S. Army Apache helicopters to quell domestic riots; Navy Seal Teams to take down counterfeiting rings; or the NSA to conduct surveillance on domestic street gangs.
What's most amazing about the administration's move is that it followed -- directly -- two and a half years of NSA document leaks, their accompanying protests, lawsuits and backlash, the passage of the USA Freedom Act and an intense debate over the lawfulness of the PATRIOT Act. Add to that the fact that it was dropped right in the middle of a heated legal battle that has shown the FBI to be both grasping for power and incapable of telling the truth -- and it clearly shows the administration is so insulated from the collateral damage of a decade-plus of constantly expanding surveillance powers as to be completely unable to detect shifts in tone.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: blake farenthold, data sharing, doj, dragnet, fbi, minimization, nsa, ted lieu


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Liberty's Son, 25 Mar 2016 @ 9:30am

    Once a GREAT Nation

    Americans used to be united in the pride knowing the world looked up to us as Americans, but today? Rampant globalizationISM by political (scientists, lol) eager to rule the world (which will NEVER happen by the way) has divided America.

    Sprinkle my ashes on Lady Liberty's breasts.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.