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Udall: Court Ruling NSA Program ‘Likely Unconstitutional’ Shows Urgent Need to Rein in Overbroad Domestic Surveillance Powers

Federal Judge Finds That NSA's Dragnet Phone Records Collection Program Likely Violates Fourth Amendment

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013

Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled today that the National Security Agency's dragnet collection of Americans' phone records is likely unconstitutional:

"The ruling underscores what I have argued for years: The bulk collection of Americans' phone records conflicts with Americans' privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution and has failed to make us safer," Udall said. "We can protect our national security without trampling our constitutional liberties. This court ruling only underscores the urgent need for Congress to act and pass my bipartisan bill to ensure the NSA focuses on terrorists and spies — and not innocent Americans."

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

Udall has partnered with 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 U.S. 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 also would 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.

By: James Dakin Owens
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