The administration claimed in its letter to Congress—which was signed by outgoing National Intelligence chief Dan Coats—that the NSA has suspended the spying program, but Free Press Action government relations director Sandra Fulton said in a statement that this "should give little comfort to those whose privacy rights are routinely violated by authorities." "The White House is calling for reauthorization of a program that security agencies have used to spy on innocent people, violate their privacy, and chill free speech," said Fulton. "The NSA program permits the mapping of relationships among members of marginalized communities and distant associates of targeted individuals, even when most individuals in those communities were never suspected of wrongdoing."
A top national security aide to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Kevin Owen McCarthyShuttering of NSA surveillance program emboldens privacy groups The Hill's 12:30 Report: House Dems pass electoral reform bill after difficult week House passes sweeping electoral reform bill MORE (R-Calif.) recently revealed on a podcast that, for the past six months, the spy agency hasn't used a program that gathers metadata on domestic text messages and phone calls.
"Historically, authorities have used such overbroad authority to harass members of these communities," Fulton added, "especially those who speak out when their rights are under threat." Patrick Toomey, senior staff attorney for the ACLU's National Security Project, urged Congress to ignore the Trump administration's request and let the surveillance program die. "It's long past time that this surveillance program was shuttered once and for all," Toomey told the Times. "The NSA has been vacuuming up hundreds of millions of Americans' call records as part of a program that is hopelessly complex and lacks any discernible evidence of its value. We should not leave such a sweeping, unaccountable power in the hands of our spy agencies."