Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks via video link as he takes part in a round table meeting on March 15, 2019. (Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images)

Alarm as Trump Requests Permanent Reauthorization of NSA Mass Spying Program Exposed by Snowden

"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."

Jake Johnson

Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates raised alarm Thursday after the Trump administration called on Congress to reauthorize an NSA mass surveillance program that was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The New York Times, which obtained the Trump administration's request to Congress, reported that "the administration urged lawmakers to make permanent the legal authority for the National Security Agency to gain access to logs of Americans' domestic communications, the USA Freedom Act."

"It's long past time that this surveillance program was shuttered once and for all."
—Patrick Toomey, ACLU

"The law, enacted after the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden revealed the existence of the program in 2013, is set to expire in December, but the Trump administration wants it made permanent," according to the Times.

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."

"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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·


Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo