Udall Announces Bipartisan Domestic Spying Reform Bill

Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Gannett's Raju Chebium reports in today's Fort Collins Coloradoan:

A proposal unveiled Wednesday by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall and three other senators would end sweeping surveillance operations like the ones revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Under legislation being pushed by Udall, Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, the government could only access telephone and Internet records of those suspected of terrorism or espionage.

The bill also would require a civil-rights advocate to be present during secret proceedings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to safeguard the constitutional rights of millions of unsuspecting Americans whose communications have been monitored by the NSA…

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

More from Sen. Mark Udall's press release yesterday afternoon:

“There is growing, bipartisan sentiment in Colorado and across the country that the way the NSA and our intelligence agencies are balancing Americans’ privacy rights and our security is fundamentally out of whack. We need to end the NSA's collection of millions of innocent Americans' private phone records and focus on the real problem: terrorists and spies," Udall said. "These aren't vague or abstract threats to our liberty. These dragnet searches are happening right now. I am proud to lead this bipartisan push to protect Americans' privacy rights and ensure that our pursuit of security does not trample our constitutional liberties."

"The overbroad surveillance activities that have come to light over the last few months have shown how wide the gap between upholding the constitutional liberties of American citizens and protecting national security has become," [Sen. Ron] Wyden said. "The effect can be felt not only by the significant erosion of civil liberties domestically, but in the reduced credibility of the American government abroad and the significant impact on American economic interests. These reforms seek to close that gap and avoid the false choice of protecting security over the preservation of personal liberty."

"Reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act must restrict the executive's expansive powers to seize private records in secret and without probable cause," [Sen. Rand] Paul said. "I support reforms on the way to a full restoration of our Founders' idea embodied in the Fourth Amendment."

The controversy this year over continued large-scale domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency, which began under Republican President George W. Bush but has continued and even been expanded by President Barack Obama, has proven a morale boat-anchor for the Democratic base. Sen. Udall's early and vocal criticism on this issue, now validated in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, should insulate him from the base's anger over domestic surveillance being continued by a President that was at one point trusted to reform these abuses. It's anybody's guess whether President Obama will support this legislation–we would recommend that–but even if Obama doesn't, Udall is doing the right thing ethically and politically by taking on this fight.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    I strongly support this. Thanks to all Senators involved.

  2. MADCO says:

    Me three.

     

    PS – in the last government shutdown, the NSA was deemed "essential" and was not affected.  Arguably, it's power and influence accreted due to other agencies being less well operative in the shut down.

  3. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    I'm in, but this is a great example of politics making strange bedfellows. I can't imagine this lot teaming up on much of anything else.

    • BlueCat says:

      Me neither but that's no reason to fail to take advantage of what little (as in probably smaller than postage stamp size) common ground is available to get something good done. As long as it doesn't involve a trade for support on, say, a Constitutional personhood amendment or something, of course. As I recall Rand Paul isn't "libertarian" enough to support autonomy over our own bodies and reproduction issues.wink‚Äč Still, his support on protecting some of our other rights has to be appreciated.

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        I'm not proud, BlueCat, I'll take it. But I hope there's some shame left over to heap on the senators who don't sign on as co-sponsors. I wonder what the record is for the number of co-sponsors on asingle bill?

  4. BlueCat says:

    Where's PR? This sounds right up PR's alley. 

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Of course, I support this bill. Tell me if my memory serves correctly: When Obama was elected in 08, there was a large group of OFA supporters on a list serve called "Get FISA right". (I joined it). We signed an open letter to Obama. We wanted the FISA court to be extended and to be more transparent. There were certain sections of the Patriot Act that we wanted to be amended.I think that the FISA reform was done, but the Patriot Act has been extended as written.

    All the while, this NSA data collection was going on, completely out of the FISA court control or overview.

    What I'm fuzzy on and don't have time to research (on lunch break): What is the relationship between the FISA court and NSA abuses now? Was FISA ever reformed?

    mj

  6. Diogenesdemar says:

    I'm all for it, too . . . up until the point that Ted Cruz, et al, and the nutsacks in the House tie any amendments to it to defund the ACA . . .

  7. b_trexel says:

    OLD (like some of us).. 

    FOOL Me Once – Shame on You. . .

    Fool Me TWICE – -  SHAME on ME!..!..!

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