Secret Law

Sen. Wyden has led the fight to address the Intelligence Community’s reliance on secret interpretations of surveillance law, arguing that while “intelligence agencies need to be able to conduct operations in secret, even secret operations need to be conducted within the bounds of established, publicly understood law.”

In 2011, Wyden warned that “when the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.” Revelations in 2013 revealed the National Security Agency (NSA) had been secretly interpreting the Patriot Act to collect millions of Americans’ phone and email data – without a warrant. Ron led the fight to end this warrantless mass surveillance that hurts both Americans’ civil liberties and the American economy.

Wyden has spent years pressing the Intelligence Community to disclose more information about how it interprets surveillance law, while increasingly raising concerns – in both classified and unclassified settings – that there is a significant gap between what the American people and most members of Congress believe is legal under laws like the Patriot Act and how government agencies are interpreting the law. 

Below is a timeline of Wyden’s public efforts: