(Hartford, CT) - U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement today regarding new revelations of email surveillance by the National Security Administration:
“These troubling reports of potentially problematic surveillance heighten and highlight the importance of reforms to ensure FISA courts properly balance the need to protect national security with constitutional and statutory requirements to safeguard individual rights to privacy and liberty. Once again, Americans are learning of broad NSA programs that potentially go beyond what the law appears to authorize. If the American people are to feel confident that these programs are not inappropriately and impermissibly infringing on our right to privacy, we must have confidence in the constraints developed and implemented by the FISA courts. The FISA courts as they exist today—secretive, one-sided, not reflective of the diversity of views held by the American people—simply do not inspire the necessary confidence. I will continue to push for legislation to require disclosure of past and future significant FISA opinions, and for the establishment of an advocate to test, challenge and question the government when significant issues of law are raised. Further, we must reform how judges are appointed to the FISA courts to ensure the representation of the full diversity of perspectives on questions of national security, privacy and liberty. These latest revelations make these reforms all the more pressing.”
Blumenthal has proposed two bills to reform and strengthen the FISA courts. The first bill – the FISA Court Reform Act of 2013 – would create a Special Advocate with the power to argue in the FISA courts on behalf of the right to privacy and other individual rights of the American people. The second bill – The FISA Judge Selection Reform Act – would reform how judges are appointed to the FISA courts to ensure that the court is geographically and ideologically diverse and better reflects the full diversity of perspectives on questions of national security, privacy, and liberty.