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Pelosi, 187 Members of Congress In Letter to Obama: Congress Must Examine Various National Security Collection Programs & Consider Amendments to Law

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and 187 Members of the House Democratic Caucus sent the following letter to President Barack Obama today following the consideration of the Amash-Conyers amendment, which would have restricted the operations of the National Security Agency.  The letter calls on President Obama to work with Congress to examine the operations of the NSA and consider amendments to existing law that strengthen the balance between our national security and Americans’ civil liberties.

As the Members write in the letter, "Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current 215 collection program."

The Members state further that, "Congress must examine the various national security collection programs and consider amendments to the law.  We have been assured that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has embarked on a review of the collection programs done pursuant to FISA and the Patriot Act, and has agreed to review various legislative proposals."   
 

Below is the full text of the letter:

July 26, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your leadership in honoring our responsibility to protect and defend the American people.  As you know, our challenge as elected officials is to preserve Americans’ liberties while protecting our national security. 

This week, the House of Representatives considered an amendment offered by Representatives Amash and Conyers to H.R. 2397, the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations bill.  The Amash-Conyers amendment would have limited NSA's ability to collect bulk telecommunications records pursuant to Section 215 of the Patriot Act as codified in Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  Although the amendment was defeated 205-217, it is clear that concerns remain about the continued implementation of the program in its current form.

Although some of us voted for and others against the amendment, we all agree that there are lingering questions and concerns about the current 215 collection program.  These include:

  • Whether the bulk metadata telecommunications collection program sufficiently protects the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. 
  • Whether the program could be tailored more narrowly to better ensure the protection of privacy and civil liberties.
  • Whether the law is being implemented in a manner consistent with Congressional intent.
  • How we can ensure greater transparency regarding FISA court operations, decision making, and issuance of orders. 
  • Whether changes to the current FISA Court structure are needed.

Congress must examine the various national security collection programs and consider amendments to the law.  We have been assured that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has embarked on a review of the collection programs done pursuant to FISA and the Patriot Act, and has agreed to review various legislative proposals. 

We look forward to working with you and Administration officials to address the concerns outlined above and to explore options which will preserve Americans' privacy and civil liberties while protecting our national security.

Thank you for your leadership and your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra
Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Ranking Member, Select Committee on Intelligence (MD-2)
John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, House Committee on Judiciary (MI-13)
Robert E. Andrews (NJ-1)
Ron Barber (AZ-2)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
Joyce Beatty (OH-3)
Ami Bera (CA-7)
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-2)
Timothy H. Bishop (NY-1)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-2)
Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU-DL)
Robert A. Brady (PA-1)
Corrine Brown (FL-5)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Lois Capps (CA-24)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
John C. Carney, Jr. (DE-AL)
Matthew A. Cartwright (PA-17)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
Donna M. Christensen (VI-DL)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
David N. Cicilline (RI-1)
Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9)
Steve Cohen (TN-9)
Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11)
Jim Cooper (TN-5)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Joe Courtney (CT-2)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7)
Susan A. Davis (CA-53)
Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
Diana DeGette (CO-1)
John K. Delaney (MD-6)
Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3)
Suzan K. DelBene (CO-1)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
John Dingell (MI-12)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)
Donna F. Edwards (MD-4)
Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Eliot L. Engel (NY-16)
William L. Enyart (IL-12)
Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18)
Elizabeth H. Esty (CT-5)
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (AS-DL)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Chaka Fattah (PA-2)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
Pete P. Gallego (TX-23)
John Garamendi (CA-3)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
Alan Grayson (FL-9)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3)
Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Colleen W. Hanabusa (HI-1)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Brian Higgins (NY-26)
James A. Himes (CT-4)
Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15)
Michael M. Honda (CA-17)
Steven A. Horsford (NV-4)
Jared Huffman (CA-2)
Steve Israel (NY-3)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-8)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-4)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-9)
Bill Keating (MA-9)
Robin Kelly (IL-2)
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (MA-4)
Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5)
Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
Ron Kind (WI-3)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1)
Ann M. Kuster (NH-2)
James R. Langevin (RI-2)
Rick Larsen (WA-2)
John B. Larson (CT-1)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Sander M. Levin (MI-9)
John Lewis (GA-5)
Daniel Lipinski (IL-3)
Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47)
Nita M. Lowey (NY-17)
Ben Ray Luján (NM-3)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
Stephen F. Lynch (MA-8)
Daniel B. Maffei (NY-24)
Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)
Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-4)
Doris O. Matsui (CA-6)
Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)
Betty McCollum (MN-4)
Jim McDermott (WA-7)
James P. McGovern (MA-2)
Mike McIntyre (NC-7)
Jerry McNerney (CA-9)
Grace Meng (NY-6)
Michael H. Michaud (ME-2)
George Miller (CA-11)
Gwen Moore (WI-4)
James P. Moran (VA-8)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Jerrold Nadler (NY-10)
Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35)
Rick Nolan (MN-8)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-DL)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
William L. Owens (NY-21)
Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6)
Bill Pascrell, Jr.  (NJ-9)
Ed Pastor (AZ-7)
Donald J. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
Gary C. Peters (MI-14)
Scott H. Peters (CA-52)
Collin C. Peterson (MN-7)
Pedro R. Piersluisi (PR-DL)
Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
Mark Pocan (WI-2)
Jared Polis (CO-2)
David E. Price (NC-4)
Mike Quigley (IL-5)
Charlie B. Rangel (NY-13)
Cedric L. Richmond (LA-2)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-DL)
Linda Sánchez (CA-38)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46)
John P. Sarbanes (MD-3)
Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-9)
Adam B. Schiff (CA-28)
Brad Schneider (IL-10)
Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA-13)
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3)
José E. Serrano (NY-15)
Terri A. Sewell (AL-7)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9)
Albio Sires (NJ-8)
Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-25)
Adam Smith (WA-9)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2)
Mike Thompson (CA-5)
John F. Tierney (MA-6)
Dina Titus (NV-1)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Niki Tsongas (MA-3)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Marc A. Veasey (TX-33)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7)
Peter J. Visclosky (IN-1)
Timothy J. Walz (MN-1)
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Henry A. Waxman (CA-33)
Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24)
John A. Yarmuth (KY-3)