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CONGRESSMAN BISHOP SENDS LETTER TO PRESIDENT CALLING FOR CONGRESSIONAL EXAMINATION OF NSA DATA COLLECTION PROGRAMS

By   /   July 30, 2013  /   Comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, July 26, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, JR (GA-02) and more than 153 members of the House Democratic Caucus sent the following letter to President Barack Obama, calling on the President to work with Congress to examine the operations of the National Security Agency (NSA) and consider amendments to existing law that strengthen the balance between our national security and Americans’ civil liberties.

As the Members write in the letter, “It is clear that concerns remain about the continued implementation of [NSA's ability to collect bulk telecommunications records pursuant to Section 215 of the Patriot Act as codified in Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)] in its current form.”

The Members state further that, “Congress must examine the various national security collection programs and consider amendments to the law. We have been assured that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has embarked on a review of the collection programs done pursuant to FISA and the Patriot Act, and has agreed to review various legislative proposals.”

Below is the full text of the sent letter:

July 26, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your leadership in honoring our responsibility to protect and defend the American people. As you know, our challenge as elected officials is to preserve Americans’ liberties while protecting our national security.

This week, the House of Representatives considered an amendment offered by Representatives Amash and Conyers to H.R. 2397, the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations bill. The Amash-Conyers amendment would have limited NSA’s ability to collect bulk telecommunications records pursuant to Section 215 of the Patriot Act as codified in Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Although the amendment was defeated 205-217, it is clear that concerns remain about the continued implementation of the program in its current form.

Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current 215 collection program. These include:
• Whether the bulk metadata telecommunications collection program sufficiently protects the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.
• Whether the program could be tailored more narrowly to better ensure the protection of privacy and civil liberties.
• Whether the law is being implemented in a manner consistent with Congressional intent.
• How we can ensure greater transparency regarding FISA court operations, decision making, and issuance of orders.
• Whether changes to the current FISA Court structure are needed.

Congress must examine the various national security collection programs and consider amendments to the law. We have been assured that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has embarked on a review of the collection programs done pursuant to FISA and the Patriot Act, and has agreed to review various legislative proposals.

We look forward to working with you and Administration officials to address the concerns outlined above and to explore options which will preserve Americans’ privacy and civil liberties while protecting our national security.

Thank you for your leadership and your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-2)
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra
Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Ranking Member, Select Committee on Intelligence (MD-2)
John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, House Committee on Judiciary (MI-13)
Robert E. Andrews (NJ-1)
Joyce Beatty (OH-3)
Ami Bera (CA-7)
Timothy H. Bishop (NY-1)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-2)
Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU-DL)
Robert A. Brady (PA-1)
Corrine Brown (FL-5)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Lois Capps (CA-24)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
John C. Carney, Jr. (DE-AL)
Matthew A. Cartwright (PA-17)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
David N. Cicilline (RI-1)
Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9)
Steve Cohen (TN-9)
Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11)
Jim Cooper (TN-5)
Joe Courtney (CT-2)
Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7)
Susan A. Davis (CA-53)
Diana DeGette (CO-1)
John K. Delaney (MD-6)
Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3)
Suzan K. DelBene (CO-1)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)
Donna F. Edwards (MD-4)
Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Eliot L. Engel (NY-16)
William L. Enyart (IL-12)
Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18)
Elizabeth H. Esty (CT-5)
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (AS-DL)
Chaka Fattah (PA-2)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
Pete P. Gallego (TX-23)
John Garamendi (CA-3)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
Alan Grayson (FL-9)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3)
Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Colleen W. Hanabusa (HI-1)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Brian Higgins (NY-26)
James A. Himes (CT-4)
Michael M. Honda (CA-17)
Steven A. Horsford (NV-4)
Jared Huffman (CA-2)
Steve Israel (NY-3)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-8)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-4)
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (MA-4)
Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5)
Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
Ron Kind (WI-3)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1)
Ann M. Kuster (NH-2)
James R. Langevin (RI-2)
Rick Larsen (WA-2)
John B. Larson (CT-1)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Sander M. Levin (MI-9)
John Lewis (GA-5)
Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47)
Nita M. Lowey (NY-17)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
Ben Ray Luján (NM-3)
Stephen F. Lynch (MA-8)
Daniel B. Maffei (NY-24)
Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)
Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-4)
Doris O. Matsui (CA-6)
Betty McCollum (MN-4)
Jim McDermott (WA-7)
James P. McGovern (MA-2)
Jerry McNerney (CA-9)
Grace Meng (NY-6)
Michael H. Michaud (ME-2)
George Miller (CA-11)
Gwen Moore (WI-4)
James P. Moran (VA-8)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Jerrold Nadler (NY-10)
Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-DL)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
William L. Owens (NY-21)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6)
Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9)
Donald J. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
Gary C. Peters (MI-14)
Scott H. Peters (CA-52)
Collin C. Peterson (MN-7)
Pedro R. Piersluisi (PR-DL)
Mark Pocan (WI-2)
Jared Polis (CO-2)
David E. Price (NC-4)
Cedric L. Richmond (LA-2)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46)
John P. Sarbanes (MD-3)
Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-9)
Adam B. Schiff (CA-28)
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3)
José E. Serrano (NY-15)
Terri A. Sewell (AL-7)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9)
Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-25)
Adam Smith (WA-9)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2)
Mike Thompson (CA-5)
John F. Tierney (MA-6)
Dina Titus (NV-1)
Niki Tsongas (MA-3)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Marc A. Veasey (TX-33)
Peter J. Visclosky (IN-1)
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23)
Henry A. Waxman (CA-33)
Timothy J. Walz (MN-1)
Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24)
John A. Yarmuth (KY-3)

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