Blumenauer Responds to NSA Data Collection
Recent reports documenting the collection of Verizon customer telephone records by the National Security Administration are disturbing, but certainly not surprising. Programs like this have been a concern since they were authorized in the Patriot Act in 2001. This is one of the reasons I have voted against that legislation every time it has come to the floor for reauthorization.
While the White House has explained that the order does not allow the government to listen in to anyone’s conversations, and asserted the program has been valuable in protecting the nation from terrorist threats, I remain dubious about its effectiveness. As of last October, 4.92 million federal employees and contractors had access to secret information, which is larger than the entire population of Los Angeles. I am concerned that the amount of information being reviewed by the intelligence community and number of people involved may actually be making us less safe.
I urge Congress to use this controversy, and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2013 which will soon head to the floor for debate, as an opportunity to reevaluate our methods of domestic surveillance, the growing size of the intelligence bureaucracy, and reiterate the importance of maintaining the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens.