Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus responded to reports today that the National Security Agency has been collecting daily phone records of millions of American Verizon customers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. Baucus and Montana Senator Jon Tester voted to end the secret FISA surveillance program at the end of 2012.
"This type of intrusion on law-abiding Americans is exactly why I voted to get rid of the secret surveillance program last year. Everyone wants to do their part to keep America safe, but that doesn't give the government free reign to ignore civil liberties," Baucus said. "I have very serious concerns with law-abiding citizens getting swept up in surveillance that is meant for terrorists. If the government really needs this type of information to keep the country safe, they ought to be able to make their case in an open and transparent courtroom instead of behind closed doors."
Baucus pushed an amendment to the FISA bill that would have required security agencies to report the extent to which foreign surveillance impacted the privacy of American citizens, and whether they have ever attempted to search through American citizens' communications collected under FISA, without obtaining a warrant. Baucus voted against reauthorizing the program after that and other protections he supported failed to make it into the final bill.