U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President Obama's proposal to rein in the N.S.A.'s bulk phone records collection program:
"The President’s proposal to end the mass collection of phone records for millions of innocent Americans is welcome news. I appreciate his willingness to listen to those of us who have considered this policy misguided for some time. While I still encourage the Administration to use its authority to unilaterally roll back some of the unnecessary blanket metadata collection, this is very good news about the future of the Section 215 program. I look forward to working with the President to make sure any legislation addresses all of the concerns we have about the retention and use of records collected under Section 215. I am confident that we can find a way to balance our civil liberties while also protecting our nation from terrorist threats."
Heinrich has repeatedly pressed the president and the intelligence community on the effectiveness of the NSA's dragnet surveillance of law-abiding Americans. In January 2014, Heinrich joined U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- all members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to take swift action to rein in the N.S.A.'s pervasive and constitutionally flawed domestic surveillance activities and to adopt reforms that protect privacy while ensuring American security. The senators urged the president in their letter to adopt many of the recommendations of his own surveillance review group. These proposals mirror many of the senators' own principles for reform.
Heinrich is 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.