Durbin: FISA Reauthorization Raises Serious Privacy Concerns

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) raised serious concerns with regard to the privacy of Americans whose communications are swept up in foreign intelligence collection. Durbin pressed Bradley Booker, Acting General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to provide details on the intelligence community’s efforts to protect Americans’ private information.

“We have seen over time, since the creation of these FISA Act amendments, a broadening of the power of the United States government [and] the lifting of the requirement for warrants from the FISA courts. We’ve given you more and more authority. All we are asking is: How carefully are you using it? How closely are you following the Constitution as you use it? What efforts are you making to protect innocent the Americans who have done nothing wrong and just happened to be caught up in a communication, or whose name is mentioned in a communication?” said Durbin. “And you tell us, ‘Hard question, we’ll get back to you later.’ It is a hard question, but it’s really fundamental. I think it really raises questions about what we need to do if we really want to uphold and defend this Constitution and still keep us safe.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks to the Judiciary Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks to the Judiciary Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks to the Judiciary Committee is available here for TV Stations.

Senator Durbin opposed the FISA Amendments Act in 2008 and its reauthorization in 2012 because it permits broad surveillance powers without sufficient protections for the civil liberties of innocent Americans. In 2012, Durbin coauthored a bipartisan amendment to the FISA Amendments Act with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have prohibited “backdoor” warrantless surveillance of Americans, but the amendment was not adopted.