Washington—Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced the committee will hold a series of comprehensive hearings to examine intelligence data-collection programs:
“The Senate Intelligence Committee will undertake a major review of all intelligence data-collection programs involving Americans. This will be the primary order of business for the committee this fall and will be used to develop proposals to increase transparency and improve privacy protections for these vital national security programs.
“As I have said before, if changes are necessary, whenever feasible, we will make them. To the extent possible, I hope these hearings will better delineate the purpose and scope of these programs and increase the public’s confidence in their effectiveness.
“For example, I have suggested changes to the NSA call-records program (Section 215) requiring that the number of database queries and the number of warrants obtained by the FBI be released annually; the retention period of phone records be reduced from five years to two or three years; and the ideological diversity of the FISA court be increased, among other changes.”
“Section 215 continues to be mischaracterized as a domestic surveillance program. It is not. The program collects only phone numbers and the duration and times that calls are made. In fact, the database was queried fewer than 300 times last year and produced 12 reports to the FBI for further investigation, which could include warrants upon probable cause if the government sought content of communications.
“I am pleased the president shares the committee’s commitment to improving the public’s confidence with more transparency and more privacy protections. This is the right thing to do. I look forward to working with the intelligence community to achieve these goals.”