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House Passes Weak Tea; NSA Reform Lacks Transparency


The National Security Agency

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a weakened version of the USA FREEDOM Act. Unfortunately, it omits critical government reporting requirements included in the original USA FREEDOM Act as introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).  

We are deeply troubled that much-needed reforms to shine a light on surveillance activities were cut out of the weak tea the House passed today. We cannot expect this bill to protect privacy and civil liberties, while the public and Congress continue to be in the dark about the policies in practice. Without transparency, there will be no way of knowing if the bulk collection of data has ended.

The original USA FREEDOM Act required public annual reports from the government that included the total—or a good faith estimate—of the number of individuals and U.S. persons included in various domestic surveillance activities. It also required public reports every six months on the number of requests using National Security Letters. The House-passed bill was stripped of all of these reporting requirements. It leaves the American public without a reliable way to determine whether the National Security Agency (NSA) has access to their phone, e-mail and other electronic records.

Sen. Leahy expressed disappointment that the bill did not include “important reforms related to national security letters, a strong special advocate at the FISA Court, and greater transparency.” He announced that he will continue to push for the missing reforms when his Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA FREEDOM Act this summer.

We urge the Senate to preserve the original USA FREEDOM Act’s essential protections and ensure its basic government transparency provisions are in any final surveillance reform legislation.

By: Danielle Brian
Executive Director, POGO

danielle brian Ms. Brian's areas of expertise include: National Security, Government Oversight, Wasteful Defense Spending, Ethics, Open Government, Whistleblower Issues

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Surveillance, Advocacy, Intelligence

Authors: Danielle Brian

Submitted by makaainana at: May 26, 2014
The way to make government listen to criticism and thus change is to NAME NAMES. Who was the chairman of the committee that fostered this weak bill. Who voted yes and no. etc. I thought a reporters creed was "Who, What, Where, Why and How". Names, faces and actions please. If I was in the House and voted against this process I would feel tainted by the general guilt brush.
Submitted by Maria Celia at: May 25, 2014
When the need to change the way this important issues help or hurt the public as he same does the Government the right action should be taken.Some times leaving what it really matters o do other thing that take time and funds it is not the right way to use funds when there are more important sites that need attention.That can help more the NSA work.This way protecting more efficiently America and all that is of great interest for the safety of all.Thank you POGO for sharing Inf. with the Public..CH.5-25-2014

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