Even Democrats are pushing back against Biden’s police state.
US Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is blowing the whistle on a secretive surveillance program that permits federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement agencies to surveil over a trillion domestic phone records annually.
On Sunday, Sen. Wyden sent a letter to the Department of Justice warning the Data Analytical Services, formerly known as Hemisphere Project, illegally authorizes government agencies to track, monitor Americans’ calls and analyze the phone records of everyday people who are not suspected of committing any crime, including victims of crimes.
The Democrat lawmaker called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to publicly disclose all documents related to the Hemisphere phone surveillance program. While the documents are not classified, the Justice Department has categorized them as “Law Enforcement Sensitive” to prevent them from being publicly released.
Hemisphere relies on chain analysis, a technique that facilitates government agencies to spy on the targeted individuals as well as anyone who has been in contact with the targeted individual without warrants.
“I have serious concerns about the legality of this surveillance program, and the materials provided by the DOJ contain troubling information that would justifiably outrage many Americans and other members of Congress,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Garland. “While I have long defended the government’s need to protect classified sources and methods, this surveillance program is not classified and its existence has already been acknowledged by the DOJ in federal court.
“The public interest in an informed debate about government surveillance outweighs the need to keep this information secret.”
Hemisphere is run in coordination with the telecom giant AT&T. AT&T captures and conducts analysis of US call records for law enforcement agencies, from local police and sheriff’s departments to US customs offices and postal inspectors across the country.
In 2009, The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy began paying AT&T to allow all law enforcement agencies to probe AT&T customers’ phone records as far back as 1987.
All calls that use AT&T’s infrastructure, a matrix of routers and switches across the United States, are subject to targeting by the DAS program. Information collected includes caller and recipient names, phone numbers, and dates and times of calls.
ONDCP has provided more than $6 million to the program to date.
Wyden, a lead sponsor of the Government Surveillance Reform Act is demanding swift congressional action on the federally funded government surveillance program.
Wyden along with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Reps. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif introduced the Government Surveillance Reform Act earlier this month to crackdown on the federal government’s “disturbing” misuse of surveillance authorities.
“Americans know that it is possible to confront our country’s adversaries ferociously without throwing our constitutional rights in the trash can. But for too long surveillance laws have not kept up with the changing times,” Wyden said in a statement announcing the bill on Nov. 7. “Our bill continues to give government agencies broad authority to collect information on threats at home and abroad, including the ability to act quickly in emergencies and settle up with the court later,” he added. “But it creates much stronger protections for the privacy of law-abiding Americans, and restores the warrant protections that are at the heart of the Fourth Amendment.”
The proposed measure would also reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows warrantless surveillance of electronic communications targeting foreigners located outside of the United States. While Section 702 is designed to acquire foreign intelligence information, a massive amount of data from American citizens is frequently collected as the foreign target is surveilled.
Section 702 is set to expire at the end of this year unless reauthorized by federal lawmakers.
In May, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in consultation with the Department of Justice released a redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion confirming the FBI misused the Section 702 database over 278,000 times, including data it collected in its search of information related to people suspected of protesting at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, donors to congressional candidates and protesters arrested after the death of George Floyd.
Also, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) wrote, “I just contacted the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director in response to disturbing new info related to a mass surveillance program called The Hemisphere Project. These programs are all about CONTROL over Americans.”