Democratic Trio Outlines Proposed NSA Changes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:50am

Three Democratic senators who have blasted the intelligence collection activities of the National Security Agency have proposed several changes in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter from Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon, which was released Friday, calls for the creation of a “public interest advocate” for proceedings at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That advocate could address the NSA’s efforts to continue the bulk collection of telephone industry metadata.

“While we have served on the Intelligence Committee for varying lengths of time, all three of us can attest that our nation’s intelligence professionals are overwhelmingly dedicated and patriotic men and women who make real sacrifices to help keep our country safe and free,” the three senators wrote in the letter to Obama.

“We believe that they should be able to do their jobs secure in the knowledge that their agencies have the trust and confidence of the American people,” the letter said. “This trust has been undermined by overly intrusive domestic surveillance programs and misleading statements made by senior officials over a period of many years.”

Obama met Thursday with a bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress to discuss NSA activities, including members with wildly different views of the signals intelligence programs. The attendees included Udall, Wyden to Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

The letter is available here.