Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, wants to know how many "backdoor" searches of e-mails and other communications the government has conducted.
He is concerned about warrantless searches the attorney general can authorize of information collected from or about U.S. citizens if it also involves a person from another country or agent of a foreign power.
He also wants to know if the intelligence community can conduct searches of that information without an individual warrant and what limits there are in searching the information if that person is not the target--the target has to be a foreign power or agent on the other side of that communication collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Wyden is also concerned about the lack of public awareness of the breadth of the data collection and limits on oversight, as well as what he says is the vagueness of government procedures for collection and use.
Wyden asked for the information in a letter to acting assistant attorney general for national security Dana Boente.