Friday, January 17, 2014

Conyers, Nadler, and Scott Applaud the President’s Pledge to End Bulk Collection at the NSA

House Judiciary Democrats Seek Legislative Action on Comprehensive Surveillance Reform

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) attended President Obama’s address on surveillance reform at the Department of Justice. In his remarks, the President concurred with many of the findings of the Review Group he convened on Intelligence and Communications Technologies—including its recommendation that the government should no longer engage in the bulk collection of telephone metadata at the National Security Agency (NSA). After the President concluded his remarks, Congressman Conyers, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John  Conyers, Jr.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): “President Obama has taken a courageous first step towards improving oversight of these surveillance programs, reassuring our foreign allies, and restoring the public’s trust.  Perhaps most importantly, the government will take immediate action to mitigate the damage caused by the NSA’s massive bulk collection programs. Yet, even if implemented in full, the President’s proposals are not the end of our efforts to reign in excessive government surveillance - they are the first steps. Now, with the President’s remarks behind us, it falls to Congress - and, specifically, to the House Judiciary Committee - to begin the hard work of putting these proposals, and others, into practice. In my judgment, the best vehicle for that effort remains H.R. 3361, the bipartisan ‘USA FREEDOM Act,’ which requires more disclosure from the government, places a public advocate within the FISA court, and permanently ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. As President Obama stated, ‘while the reforms that I have announced will point us in a new direction, I am mindful that more work will be needed in the future.’ I agree with the President, and look forward to Congress stepping up to the challenge of legislating comprehensive surveillance reform.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.): “Today’s speech by President Obama is a welcome step in the right direction, but the reforms proposed by the President are not enough. Executive branch overreach in the name of national security did not start - and will not end - with this Administration.  The balance of powers enumerated in the Constitution must be respected for generations to come, regardless of who occupies the White House. Congress, and specifically the House Judiciary Committee, will continue to work to protect the American people from an intrusive Executive Branch, which all too often operates in secrecy and without proper accountability. We will make sure that President Obama follows through on the promises he made today, and will fight for further legal reforms to safeguard against indiscriminate, bulk surveillance of everyday Americans. We will ensure that our hard-fought freedoms are fully respected.” 

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.): “In his address concerning surveillance conducted by the NSA, the President recognized the need for reform.  I am pleased he is taking steps to limit some of the programs which have raised particular concerns, and I welcome his call for consultation with Congress on these issues.  It is now time for Congress to take the next step by enacting legislation to appropriately limit these programs. For instance, the manner in which Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act has been interpreted places virtually no limits on the collection or use of the metadata, and Congress must take action to ensure reforms are enacted into law. While changes to these programs through executive action are welcome, we must trust but codify.”

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