Blumenthal Statement On House Passage Of USA Freedom Act

(Washington, DC) –Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the House passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone data:

“The House today moved forward the debate on reforming our surveillance authorities, but the legislation they passed is watered down and simply insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. This legislation makes important changes to some of the statutes that have allowed massive and widespread violations of Americans’ privacy, but even those changes have been undermined by last moment changes that open the door for new abuses. Even worse, the legislation fails to address the underlying system that made those violations possible—a system in which secret courts make secret law without the benefit of hearing both sides of the argument. In the Senate, I will fight for reform that includes turning the FISA courts into a real check on executive overreach by creating a Special Advocate who can represent the privacy rights of the American people. Sens. Leahy and Lee and Reps. Sensenbrenner and Conyers have put forward a strong, thoughtful bipartisan proposal that protects civil liberties while leaving the intelligence community free to keep us safe. That proposal, not the inadequate House legislation, should be the starting point for Senate action.”