Received this e-mail today from Senator Mark Udall (D. CO) regarding the Patriot Act:
Finally, the national conversation can begin, with Americans knowing the facts.
Several days ago, a series of news reports disclosed for the first time the breadth of the U.S. government's surveillance of American citizens in the fight against terrorism. These reports have riveted the nation. The most troubling reports describe how the federal government collects information about millions of telephone calls made by Americans, including who they call and when they call.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, I know how damaging leaks of classified information can be to our national security. I wish the information about our government's telephone records surveillance program had come directly from the Administration itself. But now the American people are more empowered to judge the secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act — and to see how those interpretations have been used to expand collection of Americans' telephone records.
I'm pleased that President Obama said that we should have a national dialogue — with more facts on the table — about the scope of our intelligence community's surveillance authority. And I believe that national conversation must lead to responsible reforms.
Will you join me and call on Congress to re-open debate of the PATRIOT Act and reform our laws to ensure that wide-scale collection of Americans' phone records is not done without their knowledge?
When I learned two years ago, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, about the National Security Agency’s invasive collection of records, I knew many Americans would be as shocked as I was. I also am not convinced, based on my knowledge of the facts, that this bulk collection of Americans' private information has provided any uniquely valuable intelligence that has disrupted terrorist plots.
Make no mistake: protecting American soil in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks is my highest priority. But when our government conducts counter-terrorism activities that threaten our privacy, I believe our government has the responsibility to be straight with the American people about how far such efforts reach.
Before the NSA’s phone records collection program was exposed, I worked non-stop to encourage the Administration to be more transparent. While I would never reveal classified information, I did everything within my power to appropriately raise red flags — and often was criticized for doing so.
I supported amendments to responsibly reform the PATRIOT Act, spoke many times on the Senate floor, and urged the Administration to tell the American people about how the surveillance laws were being used. I even voted against the long-term reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act because it didn't strike the right balance between privacy and security.
Let's now lead a national discussion about how far the government should go in circumscribing our constitutional rights while fighting terrorism. Let's call on Congress to debate and reform the PATRIOT Act and do a better job in balancing national security and personal privacy:
Together, we can make sure that our government is more accountable in respecting the rights of law-abiding Americans.
Thanks for your support on this very important issue,
You can sign Udall's petition here: