Washington, D.C. -- Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) today joined House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) in urging President Obama to follow the newly released recommendations of a presidential taskforce to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs to better protect Americans’ civil liberties:
“As I’ve said before, Senator Obama would not have supported this program under President Bush,” Rep.Grijalva said. “A secretive intelligence agency gathering millions of communications records and using them as it sees fit is the kind of excess many of us warned about after the Patriot Act became law. Continuing this program indefinitely gives the impression of being under constant siege and needing to know everything at all times to keep us safe. I find that a very troubling view of American security policy. We’re being assured that this is limited, supervised and no big deal. When we heard the same under President Bush, we weren’t comfortable taking his word for it and moving on. I feel the same today.”
“The report released yesterday demonstrates that the White House and the National Security Agency must make meaningful changes to safeguard the privacy of Americans,” Rep. Ellison said. “I hope the President takes the recommendations in the report seriously and requires the intelligence community to respect Americans’ right to privacy. Our national security should not compromise the freedom guaranteed to each citizen in our constitution.”
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. said,“The panel’s lengthy report is a good first step towards meaningful reform. Perhaps most importantly, the panel explicitly rejects the false choice between security and liberty that has dominated the public debate for far too long. I welcome this report as a starting point in our work towards comprehensive surveillance reform.”
Protecting civil liberties is a key componentof the CPC’s mission. This report, as well as constitutional questions raised by a recent federal court ruling, highlights the need for more robust oversight of domestic spying programs that have the potential to infringe on American civil liberties.