WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is backing a surveillance reform bill to restore the constitutional liberties that have been eroded by widespread surveillance and end secret interpretations of the law that exceed the intent of Congress.
The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end dragnet domestic surveillance and other unjustified intrusions on Americans' constitutional rights, improve the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) by reducing some of the secrecy surrounding its decisions and appointing an independent advocate to challenge the government's position on significant matters, and provide for greater transparency about government surveillance activities and private sector cooperation.
"We can and must balance the government's ability to keep our nation safe with protecting our civil liberties. But recent revelations and declassified documents have shown the American people that the balance is off," said Sen. Heinrich. "This bill would rein in the dragnet approach to surveillance and increase government transparency and accountability. I'm proud to join this bipartisan effort to restore the fundamental right to be both safe and free."
"It's great to have Sen. Heinrich's support on this legislation -- he's a key member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who is quickly emerging as a leader on these issues,"said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who introduced the bill earlier this week with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
"There is growing, bipartisan sentiment across the country that the way the NSA and other intelligence agencies are balancing Americans' privacy rights and our security is fundamentally out of whack. That's why I am proud that Senator Heinrich is a part of the bipartisan push to protect Americans' privacy rights and ensure that our pursuit of security does not trample our constitutional liberties," said Sen. Mark Udall. "Our comprehensive surveillance reform plan will, among other changes, end the NSA's collection of millions of innocent Americans' private phone records and refocus our efforts on the real problem: terrorists and spies."
Recent revelations and declassified documents have made public the extent of the intelligence community's bulk phone and now-defunct email metadata collection programs and their effect on the constitutional liberties of law-abiding Americans. The bill prohibits the bulk collection of Americans' records in any form, while still authorizing the government to obtain records of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism or espionage.