U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M) issued the following statement regarding a decision by Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction to block the gathering of their telephone data because a program that collects Americans telephone records in bulk is likely unconstitutional:
"I agree with Judge Leon's view that the framers of our Constitution would be alarmed by the collection and long-term retention of personal information about millions of innocent Americans for a program that has added little of value to the fight against terrorism. We have allowed the intelligence community to stray from what the framers had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment and were dealing directly with government overreach. It's increasingly clear that some of the NSA's current efforts are unnecessary, and possibly unlawful. I will continue fighting to end this bulk metadata collection program, and am confident that we can find a way to balance our civil liberties while also protecting our nation from terrorist threats."
A member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Senator Heinrich has been working to prohibit the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) from collecting Americans' information in bulk. During a closed meeting of the SSCI on Oct. 31, 2013 to consider legislation concerning the intelligence community's information gathering powers, he offered an amendment that would have prohibited the NSA from collecting Americans' cellphone location information in bulk, while still permitting the government to acquire this information with an individualized warrant. The amendment failed by a 7-8 vote. Read the published committee report.
Senator Heinrich is also an original cosponsor of the USA FREEDOM Act, which would end the bulk collection of Americans' phone and other communications records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and ensure that other authorities cannot be used to justify similar widespread collection. The bill also provides more safeguards against searches of Americans' communications collected in the course of targeting foreigners as authorized by the FISA Amendments Act.