Larsen, DelBene part ways on USA Freedom Act vote

Posted by JOHN STARK on May 22, 2014 

The two Democrats who represent portions of Whatcom County have differing views on the version of the USA Freedom Act that passed the House Thursday, May 22.

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, who represents the 1st District, co-sponsored an original version of this bill, meant to curb NSA's bulk collection of phone records. But in her view, the version that came up for a vote had been "watered down," and would not likely be effective in curbing overbroad intelligence gathering practices. 

"Today’s bill unfortunately creates a new loophole for the NSA and the government to still engage in bulk-like collection of massive amounts of data from innocent Americans," DelBene said in a press release. "This isn’t good enough."

Read her full remarks here.

Larsen, who represents the 2nd District, also expressed reservations about the version of the bill that Republican House leaders brought to a vote on Thursday, but voted for it, saying it made "important progress."

Both Larsen and DelBene expressed hope that the bill can be strengthened in the Senate.

Larsen's full statement is not up on his website as I write this, but it should show up there eventually.

In case you hate waiting, here is a cut-and-paste job from the emailed press release: 

WASHINGON, D.C.--Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act, a bill that reforms the government’s bulk collection of phone records. The bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives and puts in place new processes by which the government must get approval on a case-by-case basis from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

 Larsen has been a vocal advocate of reforming the government’s surveillance programs following revelations last year about the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection. Last year Larsen introduced the Government Surveillance Transparency Act, which aimed to increase transparency by allowing technology companies to disclose the volume and type of information they were ordered to turn over to the government. A version of this proposal is included in the USA Freedom Act.

 “This bill makes important progress toward strengthening oversight and increasing transparency by reining in the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records,” Larsen said. “But it could do more. Some provisions in the bill that describe surveillance targets could be stronger. I hope the Senate can make these improvements.”

 “The American public deserves to know what data the government collects, so I’m pleased the Act allows tech companies to disclose orders from the government to hand over phone data,” Larsen said.

 “The NSA’s dragnet data collection is unacceptable and the House has acted rightly in making critical reforms that will introduce some sunlight into government surveillance. These reforms may not be perfect but they are an essential step forward in protecting Americans’ civil liberties and ensuring national security,” Larsen said.

 

 

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