Tipton: NSA Seizure of Americans’ Phone Records Deeply Troubling

Jun 6, 2013 Issues: Constitutional Issues

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) issued the below statement following reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has obtained the phone records of millions of American Verizon customers. Tipton has joined a number of his House colleagues in a letter to of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller and NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander to determine the scope of the agencies’ data collection activities.

“The news that the NSA has seized the phone records of millions of Americans is deeply troubling. While we must ensure that our nation is secure from terrorist threats and has the tools needed to stop such threats, gathering millions of phone records of American citizens, not under investigation for any crime, is an overreach of power, violation of rights and infringement of privacy. This is unacceptable and we deserve answers from the Administration.”

In the letter, Tipton and his colleagues write:

“As Representatives of Americans possibly targeted by your agencies’ surveillance, we require more details from you concerning the FBI and NSA’s data collection activities. We request that your answers and supporting documents be sent to us in unclassified form, to the extent possible.

  1. Do the FBI and NSA regularly seek “all” telephony metadata, including local telephone calls, from a telecommunications provider?
  2. In the last year, how many FISC orders for “all” telephony metadata from a telecommunications provider have been requested and how many have been granted?
  3. In the last year, how many U.S.-based telecommunications providers have been subjected to a FISC order for “all” telephony metadata? An estimate is acceptable, if necessary.
  4. For how long do your agencies store the information collected pursuant to a FISC order for “all” telephony metadata from a telecommunications provider?
  5. What are your agencies’ legal positions on Section 215’s relevancy requirement? Specifically, how is “all” telephony metadata from a telecommunications provider relevant to an authorized investigation? We would find legal briefs, memoranda, and illustrative examples particularly helpful.
  6. In the last year, how many U.S.-based telephone users have had some of their telephony metadata transferred to the NSA pursuant to a FISC order? An estimate is acceptable, if necessary.
  7. In the last year, what proportion of data transferred to the NSA pursuant to a FISC order is associated with calls wholly within the U.S.? An estimate is acceptable, if necessary.
  8. What are your agencies’ legal positions on the scope of “telephony metadata” in Section 215? Specifically, does “telephony metadata” include data on Internet usage such as IP addresses, e-mail addresses, or browsing history?”

Read the full letter here.

Last month, Tipton called for a full investigation of the I.R.S. targeting of conservative groups, and expressed concerns that this was occurring more than a year ago. Tipton has also cosponsored H.RES. 36 which would establish a select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.