Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton emerged from a closed-door National Security Agency briefing this morning still skeptical about the broad use of surveillance techniques described to lawmakers.
“The limited collection and use of data are authorized by the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and I supported both of those laws because they establish constraints. However, the National Security Agency violated the spirit of the law when it started collecting data from everyone in the country just because technology now makes that possible,” Barton said.
Barton said that during the briefing, which was called in reaction to the leak scandal, “representatives from the NSA went to great lengths to explain that they are only going after terrorists and they are very conscientious in exercising their authority – and I believe them.”
“They have foiled terror plots by tracking their communications,” the congressman added.
“However, in America, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. You don’t target everyone and violate their 4th Amendment rights just because of a handful of threats,” Barton continued. “But that is exactly what is happening at the NSA, at the IRS, at the Justice Department and we are just supposed to accept it. Well, it is wrong and it needs to stop now.”
“To fix this, Congress needs to focus on properly balancing national security and the protection of people’s Constitutional rights.”