Senators call for investigation of surveillance programs

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The letter was signed by Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.), ranking member Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyAnother voice of reason retires Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter McConnell: GOP should focus on future, not 'rehash' 2020 MORE (R-Iowa) and Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party MORE (D-N.Y.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' MORE (R-Utah), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Nations plan to pump oil despite net zero promises On The Money — It all comes down to Bernie and Joe MORE (D-R.I.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsManchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Del.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

They asked McCullough to complete the review of the surveillance programs by the end of next year and release a public summary of his findings.

"We have urged appropriate oversight of these activities long before the problems with the implementation of these [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] authorities became public," the senators wrote. "We believe it is important for your office to begin this review without further delay."

They noted that many agencies have their own inspector general, but argued that only McCullough is in a position to provide a comprehensive report on the government's surveillance activities. 

The Washington Post published an internal NSA audit last month showing that analysts had illegally obtained private communications thousands of times in recent years. The government also released a 2009 classified court opinion showing that analysts had improperly accessed data on thousands of phone numbers over several years. 

The NSA has insisted that most of those privacy violations were accidental and that it has implemented tougher internal oversight. 

Many lawmakers have also expressed shock to learn that the NSA has been using a provision of the Patriot Act to collection data on all U.S. phone calls. The provision, Section 215, authorizes the NSA to collect records only if they are "relevant" to a terrorism investigation.