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Blumenthal Reiterates Call For Special Advocate In Fisa Courts In Light Of Unlawful NSA Collection Of Electronic Communications

(Hartford, CT) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement in response to news reports that the National Security Agency unlawfully gathered as many as tens of thousands of emails and other electronic communications as part of a now discontinued data collection sweep that was deemed unconstitutional by the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court:

“This latest revelation about NSA overreaching shows once again the need for strong and effective oversight of government surveillance – the kind of oversight that could be achieved by creating a special advocate to represent Americans’ privacy rights before the FISA courts, as I proposed in legislation introduced at the beginning of this month. Apparently, despite the fact that the FISA court had found serious misrepresentations by the government on at least two prior occasions, it failed to provide adequate safeguards when authorizing another round of government surveillance. The result was surveillance that went well beyond the bounds of the law and the Fourth Amendment.  A special advocate could force the FISA court to impose strict limits on government surveillance, to ask tough questions of Executive Branch officials, and to ensure that the government cannot engage in unconstitutional activity for years before the court finds out and shuts it down.  Now, the question is how many other such unconstitutional practices occurred without the court knowing, and without a special advocate to blow the whistle? This highly intrusive breach highlights the need for reforming the FISA Court system to assure greater respect for Constitutional rights, and to ensure that the American people have faith and trust in the institutions charged with keeping us safe.”