Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to address National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance.
H.R. 2399, the Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act (LIBERT-E Act), restricts the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to Congress and summaries of the opinions be made available to the public.
A coalition of 32 Members of Congress joined Conyers and Amash in introducing the bill late Monday. After introduction, Conyers and Amash issued the following statement:
“The recent NSA leaks indicate that the federal government collects phone records and intercepts electronic communications on a scale previously unknown to most Americans.
“The LIBERT-E Act imposes reasonable limits on the federal government’s surveillance. The bill puts some teeth into the FISA court’s determination of whether records the government wants are actually relevant to an investigation. It also makes sure that innocent Americans’ information isn’t needlessly swept up into a government database. LIBERT-E prohibits the type of government dragnet that the leaked Verizon order revealed.
“We accept that free countries must engage in secret operations from time to time to protect their citizens. Free countries must not, however, operate under secret laws. Secret court opinions obscure the law. They prevent public debate on critical policy issues and they stop Congress from fulfilling its duty to enact sound laws and fix broken ones.
“LIBERT-E lets every congressman have access to FISA court opinions so that Congress can have a more informed debate about security and privacy. And the bill requires that unclassified summaries of the opinions be available to the public so that Americans can judge for themselves the merit of their government’s actions.
“We are proud to lead a broad, bipartisan coalition that’s working to protect privacy. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Defending the Constitution and protecting Americans’ rights should be an effort we all can support.”