Not long after former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden last May released documents revealing that the NSA was secretly collecting and analyzing bulk telephone data – including from millions of Americans – New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich made known his strong opposition to the practice.
In October, Heinrich, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, tried to add language to a bill that would have ended it.
In Albuquerque on Friday, Heinrich reaffirmed his opposition: “The government still collects millions of records of innocent Americans and apparently believes that it has the authority to search these records at will…. These so-called back-door searches represent an egregious overreach and a misuse of records that would otherwise never have been in government possession in the first place, and in my view must be stopped.”
In January, President Obama proposed changes to the collection of bulk data, including having phone companies hold onto the records for a period, instead of the government. But his proposals didn’t deal with the basic problem of collecting information on Americans who are not suspected of committing any crimes.
Also in January, Obama said he has a pen and a phone – and he wasn’t afraid to use them. Heinrich is right. Putting a halt to the unwarranted bulk collection and search of “millions of records of innocent Americans” is one place where he ought to start.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.