Congressman proposes national security measures that protect Americans’ civil liberties

WASHINGTON — Congressman John Carney (D-DE) today introduced legislation aimed at increasing Congressional oversight of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance tactics.

“The ongoing revelations about the NSA’s data collection tactics are disturbing and alarming,” said Congressman Carney. “While I support giving intelligence agencies the tools they need to fight terrorism, it can’t be at the expense of our civil liberties. Going forward, Congress needs to do a better job monitoring the NSA’s activities to ensure that Americans’ privacy interests are protected.”

Congressman Carney today introduced three bills all designed to ensure that Congress is able to better protect Americans’ civil liberties while safeguarding our national security:

  •         The National Security Agency Data Collection Review Act of 2014, H.R. 3880, sunsets both Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the two main statutes governing the NSA’s surveillance activities, on December 31, 2014. Causing these programs to expire at the end of this year will force Congress to re-examine them and give members the opportunity to make changes to the NSA’s authorities in light of recent revelations. The bill would also move up the sunset date of the roving wiretaps provision of the PATRIOT Act. The bill would not affect the “lone wolf” provision, which is not technically part of the PATRIOT Act, but has been grouped in with the same reauthorization cycle. That provision would remain effective until June 1, 2015. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) are original cosponsors of this legislation.
  •        The National Security Agency Accountability Act, H.R. 3882,requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce an annual report, including one unclassified summary, analyzing the effectiveness of NSA programs for the preceding fiscal year. This annual report would include the following information: statistics from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court detailing the number of times the NSA applied for warrants, the number of times they received those warrants, any violations the NSA committed of U.S. surveillance laws, a description of actions taken in response to these violations, and a description of the minimization procedures the NSA used to ensure Americans’ privacy when carrying out each provision.  This will ensure that only those surveillance activities that are necessary and effective will remain in place, so that the only information the government collects on innocent Americans is information that is crucial to our national security.
  •        The Expansion of National Security Agency Oversight Act,H.R. 3881, expands the dissemination of its reports to Congress on NSA programs. It would add the House and Senate Armed Services and House and Senate Foreign Affairs/Foreign Relations committees to the list of recipients for reports provided by the Attorney General. Currently, only members of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees receive these reports. The reports detail the use of electronic surveillance by the NSA. They also cover the NSA’s use of the business records provision and its investigations of non-US persons. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) are original cosponsors of this legislation.

In addition to this legislation, the Congressman supports a series of recommendations President Obama is considering. In particular, Congressman Carney believes we should find more limited ways to collect metadata, and less expansive ways of storing it -- possibly by leaving the data in the hands of the private companies that collect it.

The Congressman also believes that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings should be more transparent. He has cosponsored legislation, H.R. 3159, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), to allow a public advocate to argue on behalf of privacy interests during court deliberations. The goal of that legislation is making sure that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges are adequately weighing privacy concerns when determining whether to authorize government access to private data.