WASHINGTON, May 7 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a federal appeals court ruling that the National Security Agency does not have the legal authority to collect and store data on all U.S. telephone calls.
“Clearly we must do everything we can to protect our country from the serious potential of another terrorist attack, but we can and must do so in a way that also protects the constitutional rights of the American people and maintains our free society,” Sanders said. “We can do that without living in an Orwellian world where the government and private corporations know every telephone call that we make, every website we visit, everyplace we go.”
While welcoming the latest court ruling, Sanders noted that other federal judges have handed down conflicting decisions and that similar cases are now pending in two other federal appeals courts. Congress, Sanders said, should revise the eavesdropping law with “strong new limits to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.”
Legislation proposed by Sanders in 2013 would have put limits on what records may be searched. Under his proposal, authorities would be required to establish a reasonable suspicion, based on specific information, in order to secure court approval to monitor business records related to a specific terrorism suspect.
Sanders voted against the so-called USA Patriot Act when the surveillance law was passed in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2011, he voted against the most recent 4-year extension of the law, saying that “it gives the government far too much power to spy on innocent United States citizens and provides for very little oversight or disclosure.” The current law expires in June.