Congressman Leonard Lance today called for serious reform of the National Security Agency and surveillance programs following a report in the Washington Post that the National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008.
"Last week's report in the Washington Post is deeply concerning to me. While I believe the National Security Agency and its surveillance programs serve an important role in our Nation's counter-terrorism efforts, Congress needs to bring serious reform to the NSA."
Lance, who has attended a half-dozen classified briefings and spent hours reviewing NSA documents and materials, said he was disappointed that the audit documents cited in the Washington Post report were not shared with members of Congress.
"The intelligence community is expected to provide members of Congress with candid and complete information about its surveillance programs so that we can conduct oversight properly. The NSA failed to be forthright in this regard," said Lance.
The Seventh District lawmaker said that leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees support enacting appropriate reforms to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs including more mechanisms for transparency and oversight of the way the NSA currently conducts its secret surveillance activities.
Last month the Congressman voted for an amendment to the annual spending bill for the Department of Defense that would ensure no taxpayer funds could be used by the NSA to target Americans or to acquire and store the content of a citizen's communications, including phone calls and e-mails. The amendment, which passed Congress by a vote of 409 to 12, further clarified that the Federal Government is not permitted to listen to or store Americans' telephone conversations without a warrant.
This fall, the U.S. House is expected to consider the intelligence reauthorization bill, a bill Lance says is the appropriate vehicle for broader NSA reform.
"The time is now to enact real and lasting NSA surveillance reforms that protect our privacy and protect our Constitutional rights in a public and transparent way without damaging our ability to track down terror suspects," said Lance. "These reforms need to occur quickly and I believe the appropriate process for reform is the intelligence reauthorization bill, up for debate this autumn."