U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) joined a group of her House Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to President Barack Obama regarding their concerns about the United States' national security collection programs.
"Addressing the critical concerns surrounding some of our national security collection programs is going to require an informed and thorough review to ensure we are respecting the privacy of Americans while protecting them from those who wish harm upon us," said Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "Rather than trying to solve this problem with a band-aid amendment, we must evaluate the effectiveness of each program and strengthen safeguards that prevent the government from spying on law-abiding citizens. I am happy to join my colleagues in raising this important issue with the President and I look forward to working together to develop solutions."
Last week the House voted to defeat an amendment offered by Representatives Amash and Conyers to the 2014 Defense Appropriations bill. The amendment would have limited the National Security Agency's ability to collect bulk telecommunications records (pursuant to Section 215 of the Patriot Act as codified in Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), but could have resulted in unintended consequences for the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
The letter to the President states, "Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current 215 collection program. These include:
- Whether the bulk metadata telecommunications collection programs sufficiently protects the privacy and civil liberties of Americans
Whether the program could be tailored more narrowly to better ensure the protection of privacy and civil liberties
- Whether the law is being implemented in a manner consistent with Congressional intent
- How we can ensure greater transparency regarding FISA court operations, decision making, and issuance of orders
- Whether changes to the current FISA Court structure are needed
"Congress must examine the various national security collection programs and consider amendments to the law. We have been assured that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has embarked on a review of the collection programs done pursuant to FISA and the Patriot Act, and has agreed to review various legislative proposals," the letter adds.