Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after cosponsoring the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring (USA FREEDOM) Act (H.R. 3361):
"Our nation must be relentless in pursuing and tracking those who seek to harm Americans, and I fully support the intelligence professionals who work night and day to keep us safe. I also support the Fourth Amendment, and I'm increasingly concerned by reports of the federal government abusing the Patriot Act and overreaching in its surveillance of innocent American citizens. Our right to privacy and our civil liberties must be preserved and protected, and that's why I'm proud to be an original cosponsor of this bipartisan bill."
The USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361) was introduced by Patriot Act co-author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and would:
- End bulk collection of Americans' communications records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act
- Strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans
- Require the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs
- Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) by creating an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests in the court's closed proceedings and empowered with the authority to appeal the court's decisions
- Add stronger reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is made aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community
- Give the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security
- Increase transparency by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all significant FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003
- Allow Internet and telecom companies to publicly report estimates of the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders and National Security Letters (NSL) received and complied with and the number of users or accounts on which information was requested
- Require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices and access to business records
- Set a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure different authorities are not used to support bulk collection
- Institute a sunset date on NSLs so that Congress must review and reauthorize the government's authority
In July, Rep. Griffin supported Rep. Justin Amash's (MI-03) amendment regarding the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans' telephone records. The amendment failed by a vote of 205 to 217.
In June, Rep. Griffin agreed with Rep. Sensenbrenner's statement that tracking the phone calls of millions of innocent citizens is "excessive and un-American."
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."