WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, voted against advancing the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 12-3.
"I strongly support the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and specifically section 702 to gather intelligence on foreign targets. That is exactly why FISA was written in the first place and collecting the communications of foreign targets is without controversy. However, it has become disturbingly routine for the government to search through the communications of Americans whose information has been inadvertently swept up under this surveillance program," said Sen. Heinrich. "Searching through the communications of any American should require a warrant before the search takes place. That is what our framers sought to ensure with the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. I hope we can further improve this legislation by requiring a warrant for any searches of Americans' communications. Such a change would properly balance both our liberty and our security and would secure my support for this reauthorization."
Earlier today, Senator Heinrich announced bipartisan legislation he is cosponsoring that reforms a sweeping, secretive government spying program to protect the constitutional rights of Americans, while giving intelligence agencies authority to target foreign terrorists, criminals, and other overseas intelligence targets. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Reforming and Improving the Government's High-Tech Surveillance (USA RIGHTS) Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), reforms Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' calls, emails, and other communications that are routinely swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets. The sweeping authority has been clouded in secrecy, in part because the government refuses to answer essential questions about how it impacts Americans, including how many American communications the government collects.