Transcript: Sen. Dean Heller’s testimony on the Surveillance Transparency Act – Nov. 13, 2013

Partial transcript of testimony by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) on the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law hearing was held on Nov. 13, 2013:

…This is a strong bill rooted in the belief that Nevadans, Minnesotans, and all Americans should be provided access to reports that explain the personal communications records that the government is collecting and how many Americans have had their information caught up in that collection.

By now, most people are aware of the bulk collection practices by the federal government that are authorized by sections of the Patriot Act and sections of the FISA Amendments Act. I’m confident that the full Judiciary Committee will have a robust debate on the bulk collection practices and whether or not this program should continue.

I believe that the bulk collection program mostly authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act should come to an end.

Subsequently, I agreed to join with Judiciary Chairman [Patrick] Leahy as a principal sponsor with Sen. [Mike] Lee and Sen. [Dick] Durbin on the USA Freedom Act. While there’s disagreement on whether this program should continue, I am confident all of us can agree that these programs deserve more transparency.

This is why I join Sen. [Al] Franken to introduce the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. This legislation would call for reports from the Attorney General detailing the requests for information authorized under the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act.

The reports would detail the total number of people whose information has been collected under these programs, how many Americans have had their information collected, and also how many Americans actually had their information looked at by the NSA.

Furthermore, this legislation would allow telephone and Internet companies to tell consumers basic information regarding the FISA court orders they receive and the number of users whose information is turned over.

The principals outlined in this bill to increase transparency for Americans and private companies would clear up a tremendous amount of confusion that exists with these programs. That is why transparent reform is included in multiple NSA reform proposals, including the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, introduced by Sen. [Ron] Wyden, the USA Freedom Act introduced by Chairman Leahy and myself, and the FISA Improvement Act introduced by Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein.

Mr. Chairman, while positions on the bulk collection program may differ, many of us agree on the need for more transparency. That is why I urge support for the Franken-Heller legislation before this subcommittee today.

We’re talking about millions of Americans’ calls that are collected and stored by the NSA. Americans should have access to some basic information regarding the amount of data collected and what is actually being analyzed so that my constituents and your constituents can determine for themselves whether they believe this program is worthy to continue or not…


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