Today, further details about the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance program were made public in press accounts. Specifically, it was reported that internal NSA's reports show that the agency repeatedly ran afoul of privacy rules. Following these public revelations, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, and Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations issued the following statement:
"We are gravely concerned with recent revelations of the government's misuse of its surveillance authorities. Earlier this week, we learned of an internal review that shows the NSA routinely oversteps its own privacy rules. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the government has the capability to reach nearly three-quarters of all internet traffic in the United States. Just moments ago, the government declassified court documents that show the NSA collected Americans' electronic communication with no connection to terrorism--and did not learn of the problem for nearly three years. These revelations, and others over the past weeks, demand that we act immediately.
"Although we have repeatedly been assured that the government's surveillance programs are subject to robust internal and external oversight, the burden remains on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to ensure that government acts in a manner that is consistent with our civil liberties. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on these programs in July, and Chairman Goodlatte has announced his intention to hold a classified hearing on these programs in September. These hearings are good first step in our work to curb these abuses with all deliberate speed.
"Meaningful congressional oversight of these matters also depends on reporting by the executive branch. We must take appropriate legislative action to ensure that the government may not take advantage of existing authorities. H.R. 2399, the "LIBERT-E Act,' will restrict the use of the USA PATRIOT Act's Section 215 authority and to provide members of Congress greater information about the FISA Court's decisions and opinions. Given recent disclosures, we also believe it is imperative that we enact legislation to declassify certain reports, introduce a public advocate to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and change the manner in which FISC judges are selected."