by Elias J. Atienza
Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) authored a letter to the Obama administration, asking for a briefing on the recent Yahoo email searches. This comes from the recent revelations that Yahoo has been searching through the emails of their own users for the United States federal government.
The letter states:
On October 4, 2016, Reuters published an article indicating that Yahoo had scanned all of its incoming email traffic on behalf of the U.S. government to search for and store all messages containing “a set of characters.” On October 5, The New York Times published an article citing anonymous government officials who attested to material details of the Reuters story and indicated which legal authority was used for the described program. Reuters then issued conflicting reports about which legal authority was used, and other outlets began offering materially differing descriptions of the technical mechanism used to conduct the searches.
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.
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.”
Lieu and Amash have been heavily opposed to the use of mass surveillance. Amash led a bipartisan coalition to bring down the NSA’s mass surveillance programs back in 2013, only to be defeated at the last moment. Lieu was one of the first critics of the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to break into the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist.
Both Lieu and Amash have teamed up on other issues in the past as well. The two were a part of a bipartisan coalition that penned a letter asking for President Obama to delay arms sales to Saudi Arabia due to their campaign in Yemen.
Other signatories of the letter included Reps. Trey Gowdy, Raul Labrador, Barbara Lee, and Thomas Massie.