The controversial surveillance system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, which began following the Sept. 11, 20001 attacks and was disclosed to the public by intelligence contractor Edward Snowden 12 years later, has quietly been shut down, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The National Security Agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not request that Congress renew its legal authority, which is due to expire at year's end, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy national security adviser Luke Murry.
The purpose of the system, by which intelligence analysts have gained access to bulk records of Americans’ phone calls and texts, has been to analyze social links to hunt for associates of known terrorism suspects and has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law.
Following the public concern about the system when Snowden disclosed it, Congress ended and replaced it with the U.S.A. Freedom Act of 2015, which will expire in December. A legislative battle has been brewing over whether to extend or revise the newer program.
But Murry has raised doubts about whether that debate will be necessary, telling a podcast for the national security website Lawfare that the Trump administration “hasn’t actually been using it for the past six months [and] I’m actually not certain that the administration will want to start that back up,” citing “technical irregularities” that had contaminated the agency’s database.
However, McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said Murry “was not speaking on behalf of administration policy or what Congress intends to do on this issue,” The New York Times reported.
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