Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) today introduced an amendment to the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would require a probable cause warrant in order to access the contents of Americans’ phone calls and emails incidentally collected by the program.
Text of the amendment is available here.
Senator Feinstein said: “I introduced an amendment to the 702 reauthorization in October in the Intelligence Committee that would have required a probable cause warrant for the government to access the contents of American’s phone calls and emails that are incidentally collected by the program. Unfortunately, that amendment did not pass. We’re introducing the same amendment today because it would preserve Section 702’s core mission of collecting intelligence on foreign individuals abroad while ensuring constitutional protections for Americans.”
Senator Leahy said: “Section 702 was intended to be a powerful foreign intelligence tool, and it is. But it was never intended to allow for warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications. Senator Feinstein’s amendment would ensure that Section 702 complies with the fundamental Fourth Amendment requirement that searches of Americans’ communications are backed by a warrant based on probable cause, and I am proud to support it. Now it is up to Leader McConnell to allow the Senate to vote on this critical amendment.”
Senator Lee said: “Our intelligence agencies do need a FISA program to protect us. But our security as a people also requires real protections from invasive governmental spying and the supposed warrant requirement in this bill falls woefully short. That is why it is so important that senators are allowed to offer amendments to fix this program.”
Senator Harris said: “We have a responsibility to the American people to safeguard national security interests while protecting civil liberties. Warrantless searches of Americans’ emails, calls and other private communications that are incidentally collected in the pursuit of foreign targets run counter to our nation’s values. This amendment is essential to ensuring public trust in our institutions. The American people deserve an open debate and consideration of this amendment.”