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Udall: Senate Intelligence Committee's NSA Bill Falls Short of 'Real' Reform

Udall Pledges to Keep Fighting on U.S. Senate Floor to Rein in Domestic Surveillance Programs, Better Balance Privacy, Security

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today voted against legislation relating to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), saying the bill does not deliver real, substantive reform to better balance Americans' security and privacy rights. Udall fought to amend the committee bill during the markup this week, yet the majority of committee members did not agree with Udall's proposals, which would have ended the NSA's ongoing bulk collection of Americans' phone records and replaced the bill with Udall's bipartisan surveillance-reform plan.

"The NSA's ongoing, invasive surveillance of Americans' private information does not respect our constitutional values and needs fundamental reform - not incidental changes. Unfortunately, the bill passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go far enough to address the NSA's overreaching domestic surveillance programs," Udall said. "I fought on the committee to replace this bill with real reform, and I will keep working to ensure our national security programs show the respect for the U.S. Constitution that Coloradans tell me they demand.  As part of this effort, I will partner with other reform-minded colleagues from both political parties, like Senators Leahy, Wyden, and Paul to continue pushing on the Senate floor for real bipartisan reform that will help keep our nation safe while better protecting our privacy rights."

This week, Udall joined Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in introducing a bipartisan, bicameral surveillance reform package that mirrors a bipartisan proposal that Udall introduced in September with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). That Udall/Wyden/Blumenthal/Paul bill would rein in the dragnet collection of phone records, provide safeguards for warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Act, and create a constitutional advocate to protect privacy rights in cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The bill introduced this week by Leahy and Udall would also expand safeguards on the use of national security letters and impose new and shorter sunset periods on controversial surveillance authorities. The bill is cosponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by the original author of the PATRIOT Act, Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner.

Udall has long fought to better balance Americans' privacy rights with our nation's need for security. In addition to introducing comprehensive, bipartisan legislation last month, Udall also has repeatedly pressed intelligence officials on the need to reform domestic surveillance programs and protect our constitutional right to privacy.

By: James D. Owens
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