Donald Trump's White House is seeking to reauthorize the indefinitely-halted law that allows the NSA to access the phone companies' logs of Americans' phone calls and text messages.
New: The next fight in the Stellarwind/Snowden/Freedom Act saga has arrived. In letter obtained by NYT, Trump asks Congress to permanently reauthorize NSA's expiring power to access domestic call records, acknowledging program is dysfunctional & suspended. https://t.co/dcPGGceS6y
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) August 15, 2019
Reports Charlie Savage at the New York Times:
In a letter to Congress delivered on Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, the administration urged lawmakers to make permanent the legal authority for the National Security Agency to gain access to logs of Americans' domestic communications, the USA Freedom Act. The law, enacted after the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden revealed the existence of the program in 2013, is set to expire in December, but the Trump administration wants it made permanent.
The unclassified letter, signed on Wednesday by Dan Coats in one of his last acts as the director of National Intelligence, also conceded that the N.S.A. has indefinitely shut down that program after recurring technical difficulties repeatedly caused it to collect more records than it had legal authority to gather. That fact has previously been reported, but the administration had refused to officially confirm its status.
(…) Complicating matters, three other surveillance authorities primarily used by the F.B.I. are also set to expire in mid-December. They include provisions that let investigators get court orders to collect business records relevant to a national security investigation, wiretap "lone wolf" terrorists without links to a foreign power, and keep wiretapping someone suspected of being a spy or a terrorist who switches phone lines in an effort to evade surveillance.
Mr. Coats's letter said the administration supported making those three provisions permanent as well, rather than merely subjecting them to another extension of several years, as Congress has previously done.
AND: Read the letter Dan Coats sent to Congress here.
"The National Security Agency has suspended the call detail records program that uses this authority and deleted the call detail records acquired under this authority," wrote former DNI Coats in the letter.
"This decision was made after balancing the program's relative intelligence value, associated costs, and compliance and data integrity concerns caused by the unique complexities of using these company-generated business records for intelligence purposes."
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