Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), along with other House members, attended a classified briefing Monday at the National Security Agency (NSA) with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander.
"Government agencies that protect American citizens and interests at home and abroad deserve full understanding and support -- they also require appropriate oversight," said Fitzpatrick following the three hour meeting. "The NSA under this administration has shown a lack of compliance with the rules and rights of the American people; today's meeting was an opportunity to shine a light on the situation and find out what's actually happening."
Earlier this year the NSA came under fire from members of both parties and the American people after reports of rampant misconduct and massive overreach within its programs. Recently, the agency has been back in headlines following multiple reports that it wire-tapped the personal phone calls of world leaders.
"The unlawful actions of the NSA present serious concerns for all Americans -- these infringements need to be stopped, while still allowing the agency to conduct their vital mission," continued Fitzpatrick. "That's why I've introduced legislation that would defund the offending NSA programs if they act outside their limited guidelines - a simple bill that establishes serious consequences for not following the law."
The NSA Accountability Act of 2013 clarifies language in the PATRIOT Act, Section 215 by strengthening the procedures by which the government can obtain personal records. If programs acted outside their legal authority they would be subject to a loss of funding.
Fitzpatrick voted in July to stop the program by supporting the bipartisan Amash-Conyers Amendment to the 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill; the amendment failed by a 205-217 vote. Fitzpatrick has long been an advocate for personal privacy- having voted against provisions in the PATRIOT Act in 2005 and 2011 which encroached on people's rights to privacy.
"Today's briefing was a step in the right direction for an agency, and an administration, which needs to be more open and upfront about its actions," added Fitzpatrick. "I will continue to monitor this situation and work with members from both parties on reasonable, effective reforms."