Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after voting for the Amash/Conyers amendment, pushing for further discussion and reform of the NSA phone metadata program:
"I have thought long and hard about the Amash/Conyers amendment to end the bulk collection of information under Sec. 215 of the PATRIOT Act. I have concerns about the amendment and I have particular misgivings about significantly altering the FISA authorities through the blunt instrument of a limitation of funds provision with limited time for a substantive debate. I hope and expect that before any changes to the law make it to the President's desk, we will have a fuller debate and discussion of these issues in Congress.
"Yet, in the final analysis, and as I have been urging for some time, I believe that the metadata program should be restructured so that the private companies retain possession of their own data rather than the government -- something the Director of the NSA has acknowledged is technologically feasible -- and this amendment would compel the NSA to move in that direction. Such a restructuring would be more respectful of the privacy interests of the American people while allowing the government to seek the data it needs from the telephone companies to protect the country.
"A strong vote on this amendment will also encourage the Administration to embrace real reforms to the FISA process, starting with the declassification of significant FISA court opinions so Americans can have a fuller understanding of these authorities and an informed public debate. I have already introduced legislation to bring about this greater transparency, and continue to work on additional bills to reform the FISA Court, including presidential nomination and Senate confirmation of FISA judges, and making sure there is an adversarial process and voice in important cases before the FISA Court."