Lankford Statement on Today’s White House Announcement Regarding NSA Reform

Jan 17, 2014

“The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” I’m sure the thousands of Oklahomans who have emailed, called or talked to me at community forums around the Fifth District are glad to know that the Administration plans to take steps to address much needed reforms to section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that have led to unlawful snooping on American citizens.

“However, I firmly believe that changing the text of the law itself is the most surefire way to protect Americans from snooping by our intelligence agencies. Since August 2013, I have called for at least a citizen advocate on the FISA court to ensure that U.S. citizens had a voice to stand up for their rights while Congress works to address the textual inadequacies of the law. I look forward to continuing to do all that I can to ensure that while our intelligence community carries out its important mission for our security, they maintain the crucial personal liberty boundaries between the federal government and private American citizens,” concluded Lankford.

The following is an excerpt from summary of changes planned for section 702, per today’s White House fact sheet:

“…To address incidental collection of communications between Americans and foreign citizens, the President has asked the Attorney General and DNI to initiate reforms that place additional restrictions on the government’s ability to retain, search, and use in criminal cases, communications between Americans and foreign citizens incidentally collected under Section 702.”

The following is an excerpt from the summary of changes planned for section 215, per today’s White House fact sheet:

“Effective immediately, we will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization instead of three. The President has directed the Attorney General to work with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court so that during this transition period, the database can be queried only after a judicial finding, or in a true emergency. On the broader question, the President has instructed the intelligence community and the Attorney General to use this transition period to develop options for a new program that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address without the government holding this meta-data, and report back to him with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28.  At the same time, the President will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views, and then seek congressional authorization for the new program as needed.”

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Contact: Kelly Ferguson (202) 225-2132