Today, Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California) released a bipartisan letter signed by 48 members of Congress demanding answers from the Justice Department and intelligence agencies over allegations that Yahoo searched its users’ emails at the government’s request.
As Rare reported earlier this month, Yahoo is accused of building software that allowed it to search through emails at government request. Allegedly, hundreds of millions of Yahoo email accounts were targeted.
There were no warrants and no court approval given for the searches.
“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 issues raised by these reports,” Amash and Lieu explain in their letter.
Among the signers of the missive are House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Progressive Caucus Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) who wrote the Patriot Act in 2001, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) who are both Iraq War veterans, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Congressman Trey Gowdy (R- South Carolina) and Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
Amash said in a press release, “Members of Congress have a responsibility to oversee surveillance practices and ensure that all activities comply with the Constitution and federal law. Our number one job is protecting the rights of the people.”
This letter and the Yahoo allegations come as the government’s mass surveillance programs are once again in the news. There has been new pressure to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and a movie has recently been released about his life.
There are real questions that need to be answered about these allegations. Our representatives have a duty to ensure that surveillance programs follow the law and the Constitution. Oversight of the executive branch is the responsibility of Congress and kudos to these lawmakers for doing their jobs.