Trump Administration Asks Congress to Reauthorize NSA Snooping on Calls, Texts

Outgoing director Coats wants 'permanent' authorization

NSA surveillance under Section 215 has long been considered one of the most flagrant abuses of spying against US citizens. The programs were, officially, shut down in March because of technical difficulties, and the provisions are set to expire in December.

But just because they aren’t even using the program, and have openly conceded it was both of “limited” value and ripe for abuse, outgoing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has issued a letter to Congress urging them to not only reauthorize the surveillance, but to do so on a permanent basis.

Coats concedes all the knocks against the program in his letter, but argued that it is conceivable that at some undefined point in the future technology might make it cheaper and simpler to wholesale surveil the public, and argues that they might as well get the authorization now rather than worry about it at that later date.

Which is all but admitting that the plan is to abuse this authority somewhere down the road, and that they are using the program’s current non-use as a way to argue that it isn’t a current threat. By the time it becomes a threat again, the argument will likely be tat it’s an “old” law.

The repeated abuse of the program has long been treated as very much beside the point, and even Coats’s argument was that the program costs too much and doesn’t work very well.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.