"I support the intelligence agencies working hard to protect our safety, but I am deeply concerned that the federal government has gotten too big since September 11th. It is important to maintain security without trampling civil liberties."
U.S. security programs need to tow the line between protecting Americans and keeping us safe from terrorist attacks, while still guarding the rights of both U.S. and foreign citizens. The perfect place to start is by insuring our citizens are protected by the due process guaranteed to them by our Constitution. The question of how we responsibly undertake security investigations is a major one facing our country right now, and I feel strongly that we need to rethink the current system. The Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702 expanded the government's power to issue wiretaps, search business records, and search homes in secret--but even these expanded powers were supposed to respect due process. The National Security Administration, or NSA, which has broad power to carry out surveillance programs, has abused this power. Congress must enact new measures and perform oversight of our surveillance programs to ensure that we can respect the privacy of Americans and stay within the boundaries of the law and our Constitution.
Democratic Candidate, PA-08
But we not only need to reform the NSA to protect the privacy of Americans, we need reform to ensure the agency protects us from bad actors, like the Chinese military, whose cyber hacking programs have infiltrated U.S. corporate computer system to steal data. Our intelligence agencies should not be copying this model but focusing on protecting our data systems. I support the intelligence agencies working hard to protect our safety, but I am deeply concerned that the federal government has gotten too big since September 11th. It is important to maintain security without trampling civil liberties. My plan is not only more transparency for the NSA and the intelligence agencies, but also to tighten the oversight and operation of these agencies to remind them their mission is to fight terrorism, not snoop on citizens.
My NSA Agenda
- I support legislation that limits the NSA's power. The FISA Amendment's Act and the Patriot Act are too broad, and it is time for us to rein them in by overhauling the FISA court system. This system is the one that has power to issue secret warrants to the NSA to conduct searches. Oftentimes, judges have given the agents open-ended warrants that don't even name a suspect to enable large-scale data collection. Instead of collecting massive amounts of data without restrictions, I support a system that would require the NSA to provide judges with reasonable suspicion about specific threats from specific suspects in order to justify their data collection. We also need to stop the practice warrantless data collection from non-US citizens, which is not in line with the values of our country and our constitution. From now on, all searches need to be done by a warrant issued by a judge.
- I want to end blanket collection of telephone records. The NSA has used the Patriot Act's Section 215 to collect metadata on all phone calls that Americans have made over the last seven years. This is not in keeping with the spirit of the law, and I would have voted for the Amash-Conyers amendment. Rather than the current system of blanket data collection, I want the NSA to have to prove in FISA court that all records sought are reasonably connected and relevant to specific investigations.
- I want accountability from intelligence services outsourcing data searches to private contractors. Since the 9-11 attacks, the government has expanded the powers of the intelligence agencies to issue contracts to private firms to handle our citizens' most private information, and this unfettered intelligence industrial complex puts our country at risk. Studies show that there is effectively no oversight of the private companies whose employees that make up more than a third of individuals who obtain "top secret" security clearance from the federal government (a clearance, ironically, paid for by taxpayers). There is too much of a possibility for corruption and conflicts of interest when private contractors are managing such important programs, so we need to scale back their operations and, as agents of the government, require they submit to rigorous oversight in order to be awarded contracts.
- We need to update our intelligence in order to protect U.S. companies. Our global companies cannot compete with European and other corporations who can boast to their customers that they are not subject to U.S. spying. Moreover, many European customers are reluctant to move to cloud technology + a major U.S. industry + knowing that the NSA might have access to their data. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicts that due to NSA spying revelations, the U.S. cloud industry will lose $21.5 billion in revenue over three years. In order for our technology sector to remain competitive we need to make fundamental changes in our intelligence operations to provide protection for commercial, financial and individual users and to assure them the will never again have to fear surveillance by agents or contractors operating without a warrant.