NSA: Electronic Frontier Foundation Wants New Church Committee
Republican Saxby Chambliss, the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, backed the program:
This is nothing particularly new. Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this, and to my knowledge we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information.
Chambliss' comment regarding citizen complaints is odd, as the FISA court orders were sealed and the entire program was highly classified. Also, as EFF points out, the original FISA restrictions were all but eliminated in 2008:
In 2008, Congress gutted the original balance of FISA with the FISA Amendments Act, which allowed the government to get court orders with less than probable cause that would target groups of people -- instead of individuals, like the Constitution requires. The law also allowed the NSA to collect information on innocent Americans when they are talking to people outside the U.S. who are targeted by the government.
But it gets worse. EFF and others had long alleged that, despite the rhetoric surrounding the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, the government was still vacuuming up the records of the purely domestic communications of millions of Americans. And yesterday, of course, with the Verizon order, we got solid proof. And it appears that the reach of this vacuum goes much further, into the records of our Internet service providers as well.
So here’s your wake up call Congress, and an opportunity to be a hero. We need a Church Committee for a new era. It could be headed by Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, the two senators who have been trying to warn the American people about the government dangerous interpretation of the Patriot Act for years. Udall said today, he “did everything short of leaking classified information” to stop it.