Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and who met with President Obama last week to discuss his concerns with some of the NSA's surveillance programs, welcomed the president's remarks today that he will work with Congress to reform those programs and improve the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Udall has been one of the few members of Congress who has pushed for privacy-related reforms and greater transparency for several years. Nonetheless, Udall said he will keep fighting to ensure national security programs focus on terrorists and spies -- and not millions of innocent Americans.
"We need to keep our country safe from terrorism, but we should not have to make the false choice between protecting Americans and respecting our constitutional rights. I am glad that the president acknowledged my concerns today -- and those of millions of Americans -- by promising to work with Congress to change the status quo," Udall said. "This is an important first step -- but I will keep fighting to ensure it's not the Administration's last in this direction. The administration must do a better job balancing our national security with our constitutional privacy rights."
Udall introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this year, co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and others, to limit the federal government's ability to collect data on Americans without links to terrorism or espionage. Udall and Wyden also have questioned federal officials' assertions that the bulk collection of Americans' phone records "has actually provided any uniquely valuable intelligence" beyond what is available through other, less intrusive surveillance programs.