WATCH | Republicans lawmakers say they are angry, but not surprised by a new report which shows U.S. intelligence included unredacted names of U.S. citizens in thousands of intelligence documents last year.
Overall government officials conducted 30,355 searches in 2016 seeking information about Americans intercepted in NSA metadata. The data includes telephone numbers and emails, according to a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence this week. "We're deeply concerned at the lack of control and volume of Americans that are effectively being spied on," Rep. Darrell Issa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee said.
According to the report, there were 27.5 percent more searches for American's data in 2016 than the previous year and more than triple the 9,500 such searches that occurred in 2013, the first year such data was kept.
The searches ultimately resulted in 3,134 NSA intelligence reports with un-redacted U.S. names being distributed across government in 2016, and another 3,354 reports in 2015.
About half the time, U.S. identities were un-redacted in the original reports while the other half were unmasked after the fact by special request of Obama administration officials.
Part of the reason for the increase in these searches is that former President Obama loosened privacy protections in 2011 to make the sharing of information easier.
Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate Subcommittee next week on.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2017
President Trump has tweeted a lot about the unmasking issue
...allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2017
But over 100 days into Trump's presidency, he hasn't done anything to tighten the rules on intelligence gathering.
Issa said it is up to American's to pressure their representatives for change to surveillance rules.
"I think Americans, through their Congress, are going to have to tighten up the rules," the California Republican said.
He added that Americans should call on Congress to change the rules "in a way that codifies for all time that Americans are not to be spied on and that unmasking should be extremely limited and must be justified in far greater ways than it has in the past."
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) another member of the Judiciary Committee said he and some of his colleagues had suspected the searches were increasing.
"They had been abusing the process, unmasking the names and information. Violations of the law, violations of what they promised us in committee when they got the authorization," Gohmert said referring to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
It permits the NSA to collect foreign intelligence information on non-U.S. persons outside the United States.
The law is up for re-authorization this year, and Gohmert said it's prospects aren't looking good.
"They're going to have some difficulty getting the bill reauthorized this year, just because of these massive abuses," Gohmert said.