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In Senate Floor Speech, Blumenthal Calls for Passage of Clean USA FREEDOM Act, Which Includes Fisa Court Reforms for Which He Has Advocated Since 2013

Blumenthal introduced legislation in 2013 to ensure an adversarial process at the secret court

On Floor, Blumenthal spoke out against McConnell Amendment 1451, which would significantly weaken the USA FREEDOM Act

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) last night spoke on the Senate floor in support of the USA FREEDOM Act, which passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority last month. The version of the bill currently being debated by the Senate includes FISA Court reforms for which the Senator has advocated since 2013. That year, Blumenthal introduced the FISA Court Reform Act, which would ensure an adversarial process at the secret court.

Additionally, Blumenthal spoke in opposition of McConnell Amendment 1451, which would significantly weaken the USA FREEDOM Act, stating: “I oppose strongly Amendment 1451 because it does unnecessarily and unwisely weaken the role of these experts.”

Excerpts from the Senator’s speech are below. The full speech can be viewed here.

“The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has taken a hit in public trust and confidence. There is a question about whether the American people will continue to have trust and confidence and whether that sense of legitimacy and credibility will continue.

“And the best way to assure is to make the court's process as effective as possible, not just in the way it operates but the way it is seen and perceived to operate, the way the American people know it should operate, and the way they can be assured that their rights are protected before the court by an advocate, an amicus curiae who will protect those rights of privacy and liberty that are integral to our constitution.

“As part of this reform I’ve worked hard and, in fact, proposed for the first time a bill that would create an adversarial process. Two sides represented before the court. A bill that I sponsored in 2013 to reform the foreign intelligence surveillance court, in fact, was joined by 18 cosponsors. I thanked them for their support. And the basic structures that I propose are reflected in the USA FREEDOM Act today.

“It's a protection of our rights and liberties because these amicus curiae would be public advocates protecting public constitutional rights, and they would help to safeguard essential liberties, not just for the individuals who might be subjects of surveillance, whether it by wiretap or by other means, by for all of us because the foreign intelligence surveillance court is a court.

“And so this provision, in my view, is fundamental to the court as a matter of concept and constitutional integrity. That integrity is important because it is a court, but it's also important to the trust and confidence that people have in this institution.”