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33 Asian American and Civil Liberties Groups Announce Opposition to Senate Intel Authorization, Call for Amendments

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Today, 33 Asian American and civil liberties groups announced opposition to the Senate’s Intelligence Authorization Act for 2021 (IAA) and called on House leadership to ensure Representatives have the opportunity to support necessary reforms and cure critical defects in this legislation. The signers include the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, AAJC, Brennan Center, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, FreedomWorks, the NAACP, OCA, PPSA, and United Chinese Americans.

As detailed in the coalition letter (, this year’s unusual process is poised to deprive Representatives of the opportunity to amend the Senate’s IAA.

The following statement can be attributed to Sean Vitka, senior policy counsel at Demand Progress:

“In May, 77 Senators from across the political spectrum defeated Mitch McConnell and passed a historic protection for religious groups and the press: the Lee-Leahy amendment. Members of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, have been prevented from casting a single meaningful vote in support of serious civil liberties protections despite nearly unanimous support and decades of abuse of the executive branch’s staggering surveillance powers.

The Senate is poised to jam the House with a deeply flawed Intelligence Authorization Act that would stoke racial animus against Asian Americans at a time when false accusations of espionage, including by the FBI, besiege the community. Representatives must have the opportunity to fix these issues.”

The letter calls for Representatives to have the opportunity to amend the Senate’s Intelligence Authorization Act for 2021, specifically to:

1. Add the Lee-Leahy amendment, which won 77 votes in the Senate earlier this year when considered in conjunction with the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (which ultimately did not become law).
2. Remove Sec. 9307 from the Senate IAA, which makes the establishment of a Social Media Data and Threat Analysis Center mandatory — without identifying a key term and without adequately enumerating privacy standards.
3. Replace Sec. 9505 of the Senate IAA with a provision from the House’s IAA. The former orders the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to create a plan to “publicize mechanisms that members of the public can use” to report perceived “influence activities by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.” The latter makes a one-time report in last year’s IAA on “best practices to protect privacy and civil liberties of Chinese Americans” into an annual report that also covers civil rights.