Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., an outspoken critic of the National Security Agency’s hotly-debated metadata collection programs, added his support to Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy’s, D-Vt., NSA bill, which would place stringent restrictions on the agency’s programs and forbid it from collecting metadata in bulk.
"I am proud to add Chairman Leahy as a co-sponsor of our Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act. Our bipartisan legislation sets the bar for real, meaningful reforms to surveillance law,” said a statement from Wyden released Tuesday. “This includes ending the dragnet domestic surveillance that has infringed on the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans without making our country any safer.”
Leahy’s bill, which was authored in conjunction with author of the USA Patriot Act James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., on the house Judiciary Committee, has been called one of the most comprehensive NSA reform proposals to date. Among other things, it would effectively cripple the NSA’s bulk metadata collections, add a special advocate to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and levy heavy reporting requirements on to the agency.
Wyden’s dissatisfaction with his own committee’s response to the NSA controversies is well known on the Hill; he not only voted against the highly-anticipated NSA bill from the Senate Intelligence Committee, but vocally criticized it for being too soft on the agency’s programs. He was one of four committee members who voted against the legislation, and is sponsoring or co-sponsoring several bills of his own that would require massive overhauls of the NSA’s practices.
“Now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has decided to preserve surveillance business-as-usual, Chairman Leahy’s legislation is now our best hope for reform in this Congress,” Wyden’s statement said.
Wyden urged legislators who had supported his previous efforts to reign in NSA surveillance to add their support to Leahy’s bill as well.