Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other members of the House of Representatives and Senate today met with President Obama to discuss possible reforms to some of our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs. This meeting follows the recent recommendations made by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to significantly limit our foreign surveillance programs. Below is a statement from Chairman Goodlatte following today’s meeting.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Over the course of the past several months, I have urged President Obama to bring more transparency to the National Security Agency’s intelligence-gathering programs in order to regain the trust of the American people. In particular, if the President believes we need a bulk collection program of telephone data, then he needs to break his silence and clearly explain to the American people why it is needed for our national security. The President has unique information about the merits of these programs and the extent of their usefulness. This information is critical to informing Congress on how far to go in reforming the programs. Americans’ civil liberties are at stake in this debate.
“With each new revelation of the scope of these programs, it’s increasingly clear that we need to take legislative action to reform some of our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs to ensure that they adequately protect Americans’ civil liberties and operate in a sensible manner. We also need to ensure the laws are clear so that the U.S. tech industry is not disadvantaged vis-à-vis their foreign competitors. The House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over the legal framework of these programs, has conducted aggressive oversight on this issue and will be instrumental to reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I am committed to working with members of Congress and Senators from both political parties, House leaders, and President Obama to ensure our nation’s intelligence collection programs include real protections for Americans’ civil liberties, robust oversight, and additional transparency.”
Background: Chairman Goodlatte previously met with President Obama last August to discuss our foreign surveillance programs and the House Judiciary Committee has closely examined this issue over the past several months. In July 2013, the Committee held a public hearing to examine the statutory authorities that govern certain surveillance programs operated under FISA, in which the Committee heard from officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and from civil liberties groups. In September, the Committee also held a classified hearing where members of the House Judiciary Committee were afforded the opportunity to further probe government officials from the DOJ, the ODNI, the NSA, and the FBI about our nation’s surveillance programs.