Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior Member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committee, released the following statement today in response to the plan announced today during at a White House press conference by President Obama for reforming National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs:
"I welcome the announcement of the President that he intends to work with Congress to restore public confidence in surveillance programs intended to keep Americans safe from those who would do us harm, which has been badly shaken by recent disclosures of leaked classified information. These disclosures have led me and many of my colleagues in Congress to call for reform of the nation's laws regarding surveillance and greater oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. More transparency, consistent with national security, is needed if we are to restore and maintain public confidence in the NSA and its activities.
"That is why I recently the "FISA Court in the Sunshine Act," (H.R. 2440), bipartisan legislation which requires the Attorney General to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA Court, allowing Americans to know how broad of a legal authority the government is claiming under the PATIROT ACT and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct the surveillance needed to keep Americans safe.
"As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, which has legislative jurisdiction over surveillance issues, I am particularly pleased with the President's announced willingness to work with Congress to pursue appropriate reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, the section of the law relied upon to access the telephone records of American citizens, to ensure that there are meaningful and effective safeguards to prevent abuse.
"I look forward to working with my colleagues and the President to implement these needed surveillance program reforms during the consideration of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 later this year."