Blumenthal said Congress should now act “by creating greater transparency and a special advocate whose client is the Constitution to advocate on behalf of Americans’ liberty and privacy.”
“When exposed to the sunlight of constitutional scrutiny, this massive secret surveillance program could not stand. An independent court, hearing both sides of the argument, has protected precious liberties and rights,” he said. “Congress must act to create a Special Advocate, which I’ve urged, so unconstitutional surveillance is stopped before privacy is invaded illegally – as it was here for a decade.”
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney reiterated that President Obama asked for and just received a comprehensive review of the intelligence gathering system.
“What I can tell you is that on Friday, the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology submitted its report to the president. The president is grateful to the group — that includes Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein, and Peter Swire — for devoting themselves to this effort over the past several months and providing thoughtful input for the administration to consider as we conclude the ongoing interagency review of signals intelligence collection being led by the White House,” Carney said.
He added that the report “draws on the group members’ considerable expertise and intelligence, counterterrorism, civil liberties law, and privacy matters, and on consultations with the U.S. government, privacy, and civil liberties advocates in the private sector.”
“Over the next several weeks, we will be reviewing the review group’s report and its more than 40 recommendations as we consider the path forward, including sorting through which recommendations we will implement, which might require further study, and which we will choose not to pursue,” Carney said. “We expect the overall internal review to be completed in January. After that, the president will deliver remarks to outline the outcomes of our work, and at that time we will make public the review group’s full report and other conclusions of our work.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though, advocated “the strongest legislation possible to end the abuses by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.”
“In my view, the NSA is out of control and operating in an unconstitutional manner,” Sanders said. “Today’s ruling is an important first step toward reining in this agency but we must go further.”
In the lower chamber, an author of the original Patriot Act said the ruling underscored the need to pass his USA FREEDOM Act introduced with Leahy at the end of October, which along with stopping the data collection would allow businesses to release information about FISA requests.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-Wis.) bill currently has 115 cosponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate, as well as backing from AOL, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Mozilla and other tech companies.
“The slow trickle of revelations that began in June about NSA spying have exposed the most intrusive and secretive programs in American history. From the onset, I have been extremely critical of the government’s dragnet collection of Americans’ data,” Sensenbrenner said.
“I am encouraged by the district court’s ruling. It will add to the growing momentum behind the USA FREEDOM Act… the Executive Branch should join Congress to institute meaningful reform.”