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Democratic senators call on CIA to declassify report on surveillance

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 19. Wyden and Sen. Martin Heinrich on Thursday called for renewed transparency by the CIA over bulk surveillance the agency has been conducting. File Photo by Mandel Ngan/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/aa69f5e997af59b6230feb1112d5099b/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 19. Wyden and Sen. Martin Heinrich on Thursday called for renewed transparency by the CIA over bulk surveillance the agency has been conducting. File Photo by Mandel Ngan/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich on Thursday called for a renewed transparency by the CIA over bulk surveillance the agency has been conducting that could include some U.S. residents.

Wyden, of Oregon, and Heinrich, of New Mexico, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged the CIA to declassify a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on a CIA bulk collection program.

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They first called for such declassification in a letter to the CIA dated April 13, 2021. A redacted version of the letter to CIA Director William Burns was made public this week, noting that the secret bulk program was authorized by the 1981 Executive Order 12333 rather than the laws passed by Congress.

"But 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 the executive order and outside the FISA law," the letter said.

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"In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans, the same issue that has generated bipartisan concern in the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] context."

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The senators said they want to know what kind of records the CIA has been compiling in the secret program and "legal framework" behind the collection.

"Our letter also stressed that the public deserves to know more about the collection of this information," the letter said. "The [Director of National Intelligence] and the CIA director have started this process. We intend to continue to urge them to achieve the transparency the American people deserve."

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