First, please be assured that the NSA does not conduct mass surveillance on U.S. citizens.
Oh, well that settles it. Apparently everyone else
was wrong about the NSA. My illustrious representative says so ...
Thank you for your letter expressing your support for reforming National Security Agency (NSA) programs. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue, and welcome the opportunity to respond. First, please be assured that the NSA does not conduct mass surveillance on U.S. citizens.
Its mission is to collect foreign signals intelligence to detect foreign national security threats. For your convenience, a summary of the NSA's authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is available on the agency's website or at http://tinyurl.com/NSA-FISA
Please know that I support measures to improve oversight of U.S. intelligence programs and to make them more transparent to the public. On October 31, 2013, I introduced the "FISA Improvements Act" (S. 1631), which would require court review when the NSA call records database
is queried, and mandate a series of limitations on how the records can be obtained, stored, and used. It would also authorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to designate outside "amici curiae," or "friends of the court," to provide independent perspectives and assist the Court in reviewing matters that present a novel or significant interpretation of law.
Additionally, on November 5, 2013, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which I chair, approved the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014" (S. 1681), which would strengthen existing protections that allow whistleblowers in the Intelligence Community to bring their concerns directly to the attention of Congress, inspectors general, and Intelligence Community leaders. The bill would also require the Department of Justice to inform the Congressional intelligence committees of all Office of Legal Counsel opinions regarding intelligence activities, and extend the charter of the Public Interest Declassification Board, which promotes public access to a thorough record of U.S. national security decisions and activities.
Finally, as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have called for a full review of all U.S. intelligence programs. For your convenience, I have included an opinion piece I authored in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 2, 2013 that further outlines proposals that I support.
Again, thank you for writing. Please know that as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that national security programs honor the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. I will certainly keep your concerns in mind as Congress considers legislation to reform NSA programs. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator