BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 17 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after President Barack Obama announced new measures on the oversight of government surveillance programs.
“I appreciate the president’s willingness to examine this important issue but I think that his remarks did not go far enough. There is no question in my mind that the collection of data on every phone call made in the United States is unconstitutional and a violation of the Fourth Amendment and that the government has engaged in massive violations of civil liberties and privacy rights.
“I am concerned about the chilling effect such wholesale surveillance has on Americans’ everyday activities. I do not want writers, students and even our children worried that the books they read, the Internet sites they visit, the petitions they sign will be conceived by the government as anti-American or dangerous.
“Let me be clear: In my view terrorist acts against the United States and other countries remain a serious threat and we have to do everything we can to protect our safety, but I am convinced we can do that without undermining the privacy rights of the American people.
“We need a strong national conversation on this issue and I am delighted that on Feb. 1 I will be bringing to Montpelier, Vt., some of the leading civil liberties experts in the country for a town meeting with Vermonters to discuss this issue.