A letter from Dan Coats (director of the NSA) to the heads of two key Senate committees argues that powers revoked by the intelligence service should be reinstated permanently, rather than needing a bill that requires renewal.
The powers he refers to have been highly controversial since they were unveiled by Edward Snowden in 2013. In fact, the program, which is based on two different, ridiculous interpretations of the law, has been repeatedly considered unconstitutional.
Of course, even if the law changes, the NSA will not be able to make the system work, as it has been forced to admit twice in the past that it was collecting millions of call records that it should not have.
In June 2018, he deleted 534 million phone records he had collected the previous year, but did not provide practical details on how and why this happened.
The same thing happened again a few months later - in October 2018. Of course, we learned the news a little later, in June 2019, when the NSA was forced to declassify secret documents after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The intelligence services knew that the second failure of her program was about to be made public, and so she began letting congressional advisers know that she was thinking of refocusing on the program in early 2019.
Since then, the NSA has repeatedly refused to discuss the program or even confirm that it has stopped.
But Coats' letter this week not only proposes a review of the program, but also boldly states that it should be approved on a permanent basis.
It is no secret that intelligence services are able to circumvent democratic processes by arguing that these are national security issues, but that a service seeking permanent access to a highly contested spy is unprecedented.
Recall that the NSA has been forced to admit twice, following Snowden's revelations that their program violates the constitution.
But why did Coats send the letter on his last day in office?
Coats did not want to be publicly confronted with Trump's insistence that Russia not be confused in the presidential election.
Coats refused to ignore the security services' conclusions about the role played by Russia and President Vladimir Putin in the US election, and of course Trump did not want him in power.
He also publicly expressed disappointment when Trump said he had invited Putin to the White House.
The security services have been and are in an extremely awkward position with the president close to the leaders of several of the United States' longtime enemies.
In light of the above, Trump has been (and is) extremely cautious about oversight of security services. As you can see, Coats's letter could be seen as a last-ditch effort to protect their secret services and responsibilities before losing their position and influence.