Congressional Momentum Against NSA Spying Continues to Grow

by Michelle Richardson, ACLU.org  |  published on June 28, 2013

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To hear some in the press tell it, Congress could not be more indifferent to the recent revelations that the NSA is collecting all of the phone records of all law-abiding Americans. This isn’t entirely an unfair conclusion to draw, however rash. Congress, after all, passed the unconstitutional Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act, while the Intelligence Committees whose job it is to ensure the intelligence community doesn’t violate our rights, allowed the NSA to do just that.

But the press, and the American people, shouldn’t write off Congress just yet: a civil-libertarian energy is stirring.

Since the Guardian broke the story about the NSA’s bulk collection of innocent Americans’ call records, many members of Congress have been pushing back at blanket government surveillance. They’ve made statement after statement criticizing the government’s broad collection programs. Some have even argued there is no evidence these programs have thwarted attacks. But most tellingly, legislators are filing legislation left and right to compel more disclosure about these programs and rein them in. The bills are coming from both Democrats and Republicans, including members who voted for the Patriot Act in the past but feel misled about how it’s been used.

In little less than 3 weeks, six bipartisan pieces of legislation to rollback NSA spying have been introduced:

  • The LIBERT-E Act (H.R. 2399)—from Reps. Conyers (D-Mich.), Amash (R-Mich.), and 31 other bipartisan cosponsors—would limit Section 215 of the Patriot Act and force disclosure of the secret court orders and/or legal reasoning behind all of these surveillance programs.

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