In an open letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, some 48 House members requested clarifications on the Yahoo surveillance program, as “confusion” regarding the nature of the program seems to have settled in.
Stressing the urgency of the briefing, both the DOJ and the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) are requested to clarify some “misleading” reports from Reuters regarding the accuracy of specific details of the program.
“There is significant confusion regarding the existence and nature of the program described by these reports and the legal questions implicated by the accuracy of specific details,” reads the letter. “As legislators, it is our responsibility to have accurate information about the intelligence activities conducted by the federal government. Accordingly, we request information and a briefing as soon as possible for all members of Congress to resolve the issue raised by these reports.”
Since the surveillance program was supposed to target individuals posing a threat to national security, conflicting information surfaced as to which authority sanctioned these actions. At first Reuters reported that the program was under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008, but it later retracted the statement and stated the order came from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“Members of Congress have a responsibility to oversee surveillance practices and ensure that all activities comply with the Constitution and federal law,” said Reps. Justin Amash. “Our number one job is protecting the rights of the people.”
Aiming to establish the exact legal means used to set up the surveillance program, House members have used the phrase “as soon as possible,” although no specific deadline or date has been mentioned.