Vocal National Security Agency critic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR offered full-throated praise for the changes to NSA surveillance programs announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.
In a joint statement with fellow Senate Intelligence Committee members and privacy advocates Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Wyden commended the President for proposing changes to the NSA’s phone records collection program in particular. He and Udall had proposed a bill last year to curtail the agency’s authority to collect that data.
“After the long push to rein in overbroad surveillance powers, we are very pleased that the President announced his intent to end the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records,” the senators said. “Ending this dragnet collection will go a long way toward restoring Americans’ constitutional rights and rebuilding the public’s trust. Make no mistake, this is a major milestone in our longstanding efforts to reform the National Security Agency’s bulk collection program.”
The senators added that they would push for additional reforms they believe are necessary, including reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court process and ensuring the government doesn’t read emails or other communications without a warrant.
“The groundswell of public support that has built for these reforms over the past several months shows that the American public shares our view of the importance of reining in overbroad and unnecessary surveillance powers that infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights,” the senators concluded. Today’s announcement is vindication of that activism and we look forward to working with the President and our colleagues to push forward on these reforms in the weeks and months ahead.”
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