Today Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated that he is “convinced that further protections” of the civil liberties of U.S. citizens are necessary following review of the nation’s surveillance efforts.
Rep. Goodlatte’s statement follows his attendance of a classified briefing discussing current governmental use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to collect information.
Without making a direct allusion, the congressman notes the changing temperature of oversight regarding United States surveillance activities spurred by the leaks originating by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden: “Over the past few months, the House Judiciary Committee has conducted vigorous oversight of our nation’s foreign surveillance programs.” I’m not sure if the Chairman considers Snowden to be a patriot or a traitor, but there is no doubt that he is calling for change due to the leaks that the whistleblower unleashed.
What sort of increased protection does Rep. Goodlatte have in mind? Three things: “robust oversight, additional transparency, and protections for Americans’ civil liberties” while providing sufficient legal power to keep the country secure from foreign aggressors. That’s a strong list, but one that is generic in its formulation. Rep. Goodlatte makes no specific policy proposals.
However, his demand of increased protection implies that there has been too little protection in the past. And, as a prominent Republican, he embodies the trend of party-splitting that the NSA discussion has sparked. That split was best embodied in the Amash Amendment, which the House narrowly defeated, with both parties voting for and against it. Rep. Pelosi, a leading Democrat, was instrumental in its defeat.
That Rep. Goodlatte’s demands that we reform surveillance and rein it in to better respect our should-be-ironclad rights is good news. Every voice in favor of privacy is one worth amplifying.
Top Image Credit: Andrew Malone