Congressman Jared Huffman

Representing the 2nd District of California

Huffman Releases Video Response to Constituent Email Concerning NSA Surveillance

Sep 10, 2013
Press Release
Huffman: “It is time, and has been time for several years now, to swing the pendulum back in the direction of greater privacy and civil liberties.”

WASHINGTON­—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today released a video response to a constituent’s email concerning the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities. The video response, recorded shortly after his vote on the Amash/Conyers amendment to rein in NSA surveillance programs, was released in light of continuing revelations concerning the NSA. This is the latest in his “Ask Jared” video series.

“Some of the laws we passed immediately after the 9/11 tragedy went too far in granting authority to our federal intelligence agencies and I think it is time, and has been time for several years now, to swing the pendulum back in the direction of greater privacy and civil liberties,” Congressman Huffman said. “I’ll be working on other bills as they come forward to do what I think can be done, to strike a balance that maintains our national security, that funds responsible foreign surveillance programs but also respects the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens.”

Congressman Huffman’s video response may be found HERE:

A transcript of Congressman Huffman’s video can be found below:

“Hi, Congressman Jared Huffman and today I am responding to a letter that I got from Alan in San Rafael, who was expressing his concern about the breadth and scope of surveillance activities by NSA. I want to tell you, Alan, and others that share these concerns that I agree with you.

Before I got to Congress, my view was that some of the laws we passed immediately after the 9/11 tragedy went too far in granting authority to our federal intelligence agencies and I think it is time, and has been time for several years now, to swing the pendulum back in the direction of greater privacy and civil liberties. So, let me tell you what I am working on.

Last week I voted in support of what was called the Amash/Conyers Amendment to the NSA appropriations legislation. It fell just short, it didn’t pass, but there was an awful lot of bipartisan support for it and it has helped advance this conversation about how we can better protect privacy and civil liberties without sacrificing reasonable intelligence programs and national security. What this amendment would have done is basically make it harder for the NSA to get all of this data on the phone calls that Americans make every single day. They would have to show that it is relevant to a specific investigation, instead of the current standard, which basically allows them to permanently collect and store and use the information that includes all of our phone calls each and every day, even ones made entirely in the United States. That’s just too much and it goes too far.

So I thought it was a reasonable amendment and I’m going to keep pushing. In fact I’m supporting legislation that would do the same thing.

I’m also supporting a bill by my colleague Adam Schiff that addresses another piece of this issue which is the very secretive so-called FISA courts. These are courts that grant the warrants to NSA and other intelligence agencies to do these programs. These are courts that right now are appointed entirely by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There’s no transparency, no Senate confirmation. The bill I’m co-sponsoring would change that. It would require Senate confirmation and would give us an opportunity to know who these judges are, to understand their philosophy of the 4th amendment, of civil liberties, of privacy, before they get this very powerful position. FISA courts are very secretive, and once these judges are appointed, we have very little opportunity hold them accountable or to even understand what they are doing.

So I’ll be working on this bill, I’ll be working on other bills as they come forward to do what I think can be done, to strike a balance that maintains our national security, that funds responsible foreign surveillance programs but also respects the privacy and civil liberties of American citizens.

Thanks for your feedback and your concern. I hope that gives you a better idea of where I stand on these NSA surveillance programs.”