Brennan Center, Civil Liberties Groups Press Director of National Intelligence for Answers on Section 702 Surveillance

January 13, 2016

In a letter today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and other civil liberties groups are challenging the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to provide basic information about the impact of Section 702 surveillance on United States citizens and residents. Section 702 allows for warrantless wiretapping of a foreign target’s communications with Americans, without requiring any suspicion of terrorism or wrongdoing.

The Center and more than 30 other groups had sent a prior letter to the Director in October asking for, among other things, an estimate of how many communications involving Americans are swept up in Section 702 surveillance. The groups’ letter included a proposal for how the estimate could be conducted. In late December, the Office of the DNI responded with a letter proposing a meeting, but reiterating previous arguments for why it could not provide the requested information, and failing to address the groups’ proposal. Today’s letter explains where this response falls short, and identifies specific issues for discussion at the proposed meeting.

“The civil liberties community understands the need for a dialogue and welcomes the opportunity for an in-person exchange with intelligence officials,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “But meaningful progress can happen only if officials are willing to engage on our specific points and proposals. We’re hopeful that the discussion items outlined in our letter can provide a blueprint for a successful conversation.”

Read the Brennan Center and other civil liberty groups’ initial letter and new letter sent today.

Read the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s reply to the first letter.

Read the Brennan Center’s blog post on the correspondence.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Naren Daniel at (646) 292-8381 or