Cantwell, Senators Call for Investigation into NSA Phone Records, Data Collection

Coalition of senators ask board to review NSA programs, privacy concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 12 other senators in calling for an independent investigation by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board into the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data collection and phone records programs.

In a bipartisan letter led by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) sent today, the senators asked the board to specifically look into whether the NSA’s programs, “(1) are conducted within the statutory authority granted by Congress, and (2) take the necessary precautions to protect the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens under the Constitution.”

The senators continued: “We further ask that you provide an unclassified report on these issues, so that the public and the Congress can have a long overdue debate about these important privacy concerns.”

A primary responsibility of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is oversight of the executive branch to determine whether national security efforts are consistent with U.S. laws and regulations, and maintain appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties.

Cantwell has long sought to balance national security with safeguards for the privacy of American citizens. In July 2012, Cantwell joined a bipartisan coalition of senators led by Ron Wyden (D-OR) in asking James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to estimate the number of U.S. communications that had been collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The coalition also asked whether attempts had been made to search for communications of specific Americans without a warrant or emergency authorization. Cantwell has also repeatedly voted against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act out of concerns that the communications of Americans would be intercepted along with the communications of those residing outside our borders.