WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement on Senate votes related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA PATRIOT Act:
“I voted for the USA FREEDOM Act. Our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment prohibit the government from having the authority to broadly search or seize the papers or effects of innocent Americans without good cause and court approval. The 2nd Circuit recently held that NSA’s bulk collection program was not authorized by law, so Congress has the responsibility to act.”
“Instead of indiscriminately collecting databases of information on innocent Americans, the legislation directs our law enforcement and intelligence community to use their limited resources more effectively to prioritize terrorism investigations. The legislation gives our agencies the tools they need to collect phone records in a targeted manner. It provides more transparency about government surveillance programs and enhances judicial review by reforming the FISA Court process.
“Congress has given the men and women of our intelligence community, many of which live and work in Maryland, the tools and parameters they need to do their jobs efficiently and – most importantly — within the laws of the United States of America. As technology and threats change, Congress must be able to exercise this type of oversight to ensure our laws are not outpaced by the times.
“This legislation passed the House by a nearly 4-1 margin in a vote of 338 to 88. It has the support of an unusually broad coalition including the Obama Administration, Justice Department, intelligence community, technology industry, and numerous civil liberties and privacy groups.
“Tonight’s votes put the needed reforms of these vital counter-terrorism programs in jeopardy. I urge the Senate to take up and pass the USA FREEDOM Act when it reconvenes on Sunday, May 31, the day before these programs expire, and send the bill to the White House for the President’s waiting signature.”