Leahy comment on the release of recommendations by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

News Release – Sen. Patrick Leahy
Dec. 18, 2013

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On the Release of Recommendations by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
December 18, 2013

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released the following comment Wednesday after the White House released recommendations from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to reform the nation’s broad surveillance laws.]

“The message to the NSA is now coming from every branch of government and from every corner of our nation: You have gone too far. The bulk collection of Americans’ data by the U.S. government must end. This momentous report from the President’s closest advisers is a vindication of the efforts of a bipartisan group of legislators that has been working for years to protect Americans’ privacy by reining in these intelligence authorities. I welcome the report and call on the President to immediately consider implementing the recommendations that can be achieved without legislation.

“I will continue to push the USA FREEDOM Act to end the dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records and recalibrate the government’s surveillance authorities. I have invited the members of the President’s Review Group to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month, and look forward to discussing their important recommendations.”

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Several recommendations from the President’s review group align with provisions in the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, a bill authored by Senator Leahy that has drawn broad support from across the political spectrum and a host of technology companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations.

Those provisions include:

An End To Bulk Collection of Americans’ Communications Records

· The USA FREEDOM Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, in light of the massive intrusion on Americans’ privacy and the lack of evidence of its effectiveness, and instead allows only more targeted searches.
Stricter Safeguards on National Security Letters

· The USA FREEDOM Act places significant limits and safeguards on the use of National Security Letters, and includes judicial review of nondisclosure orders.
Protections For Americans’ Communications Collected Under the FISA Amendments Act

· The USA FREEDOM Act closes NSA’s “back door” access to Americans’ communications by requiring a court order to search for the communications of Americans in data collected without individualized warrants under Section 702 of FISA.
Reforms To the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

· The USA FREEDOM Act creates a Special Advocate tasked with promoting privacy interests in the FISA Court’s closed proceedings and addresses the problem of “secret law” by establishing a process for public release of FISA Court opinions containing significant legal interpretations.
Increased Transparency and Oversight

· The USA FREEDOM Act permits Internet and telecommunications companies to report publicly basic information about their participation in NSA surveillance programs.

· The USA FREEDOM Act requires the government to provide new public reporting on FISA implementation and the use of National Security Letters.

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  • Sally Shaw

    While Leahy’s bill might be a slight improvement over Feinstein’s “FISA Improvement Act” which actually legalizes NSA predations, I still have to wonder what part of “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.[1]” these lawmakers don’t understand?

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