Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a cosponsor of legislation to prevent the abuse of surveillance powers, today concurred with District Court Judge Richard J. Leon’s ruling that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk metadata collection of phone records of people residing within U.S. borders is likely an overreach of their authority and a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Given the significance of the ruling, Judge Leon stayed his ruling to give the government time to appeal.
Congressman Garamendi is a cosponsor of the bipartisan and bicameral USA FREEDOM Act, H.R. 3361/S. 1599, which would “rein in the dragnet collection of data by the NSA and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Courts, provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent advocate to argue cases before the FISA Courts.”
In his decision, Federal District Court Judge Leon wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”
“The more I learn about the NSA’s bulk metadata collection program, the more concerns I have,” Congressman Garamendi said. “In the interests of keeping America safe from external threats, the NSA has instituted a catchall data collection program which I believe to be an extraordinary overreach of their power, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and beyond any intent of Congress.”
Garamendi continued, “This dragnet program alone is an unwarranted intrusion into Americans’ lives, but coupled with other NSA programs that have recently been made public, it raises serious concerns about the state of privacy in our country. Today’s ruling is a positive step towards protecting our rights to privacy enshrined in the Fourth Amendment and I hope next year that Congress takes a serious look at these programs.”