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Udall, Wyden, Heinrich Challenge Effectiveness of Dragnet Surveillance Program in NSA Court Case

Udall, Wyden, Heinrich Challenge Effectiveness of Dragnet Surveillance Program in NSA Court Case

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Published by Mark Udall
U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today challenged the effectiveness of the National Security Agency's bulk phone records collection program. The senators' amicus curiae brief, filed in the First Unitarian Church vs. National Security Agency U.S. District Court case, questioned a central premise of the government's argument. The brief argues that after extensive review, the senators have seen no evidence the dragnet collection of Americans' private phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means.

The senators also pushed back on the government's overbroad interpretation of certain surveillance laws, warning the court that such an expansive reading of the law could potentially support even more intrusive surveillance practices, such as collection of financial or medical records, or even records revealing the location of ordinary Americans.

"Our number one priority must be to keep Americans safe while keeping faith with the values that make this country great. Yet in recent years the balance between protecting our liberties and ensuring our security has become fundamentally broken," Udall said. "The dragnet collection of millions of innocent Americans' private phone records is a clear threat to our constitutional rights, yet we have seen no evidence that this exceedingly intrusive monitoring has provided any uniquely valuable intelligence. The courts should exercise their power and call out the government's position."

"As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have a responsibility to conduct vigorous oversight and ensure that there is adequate openness and accountability regarding intelligence policies. After spending many years reviewing the bulk phone records collection program I have yet to see any examples of it providing real intelligence value that could not be have been gained by more constitutionally sound means," Wyden said. "I believe it was important for us to file an amicus brief in this case to ensure that the court is aware of our understanding of the facts as it considers the important constitutional questions raised by this case."

"Collecting the daily telephone activity of millions of innocent Americans is a major intrusion to our privacy rights that does little if anything to further the fight against terrorism," Heinrich said. "As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I am more familiar than most with this program, and know what is and isn't true about this program. To the extent I can do so without violating my national security obligations, I will do what I can to keep the government honest about what it tells others, including our courts, about this program."

The senators filed their amicus brief with the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Northern California. The case involves a suit filed on behalf of 22 organizations that claim that the government’s ongoing bulk phone records collection program has violated their constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and free association.
U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today challenged the effectiveness of the National Security Agency's bulk phone records collection program. The senators' amicus curiae brief, filed in the First Unitarian Church vs. National Security Agency U.S. District Court case, questioned a central premise of the government's argument. The brief argues that after extensive review, the senators have seen no evidence the dragnet collection of Americans' private phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means.

The senators also pushed back on the government's overbroad interpretation of certain surveillance laws, warning the court that such an expansive reading of the law could potentially support even more intrusive surveillance practices, such as collection of financial or medical records, or even records revealing the location of ordinary Americans.

"Our number one priority must be to keep Americans safe while keeping faith with the values that make this country great. Yet in recent years the balance between protecting our liberties and ensuring our security has become fundamentally broken," Udall said. "The dragnet collection of millions of innocent Americans' private phone records is a clear threat to our constitutional rights, yet we have seen no evidence that this exceedingly intrusive monitoring has provided any uniquely valuable intelligence. The courts should exercise their power and call out the government's position."

"As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have a responsibility to conduct vigorous oversight and ensure that there is adequate openness and accountability regarding intelligence policies. After spending many years reviewing the bulk phone records collection program I have yet to see any examples of it providing real intelligence value that could not be have been gained by more constitutionally sound means," Wyden said. "I believe it was important for us to file an amicus brief in this case to ensure that the court is aware of our understanding of the facts as it considers the important constitutional questions raised by this case."

"Collecting the daily telephone activity of millions of innocent Americans is a major intrusion to our privacy rights that does little if anything to further the fight against terrorism," Heinrich said. "As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I am more familiar than most with this program, and know what is and isn't true about this program. To the extent I can do so without violating my national security obligations, I will do what I can to keep the government honest about what it tells others, including our courts, about this program."

The senators filed their amicus brief with the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Northern California. The case involves a suit filed on behalf of 22 organizations that claim that the government’s ongoing bulk phone records collection program has violated their constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and free association.

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Published by: Mark Udall on Nov 19, 2013
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First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
et al.
v. National Security Agency
et al.
 ,
Case No. 3: 13-cv-03287 JSW MOTION OF
 AMICI 
 WYDEN, UDALL & HEINRICH IN SUPP. OF PLS’ MOT. FOR PARTIAL S.J.
Alex Abdo aabdo@aclu.org Brett Max Kaufman  bkaufman@aclu.org Patrick Toomey  ptoomey@aclu.org
 
Jameel Jaffer  jjaffer@aclu.org AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION FOUNDATION 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor  New York, New York 10004 Telephone: (212) 549-2500 Facsimile: (212) 549-2654 Julia Harumi Mass (CA SBN 189649)  jmass@aclunc.org
 
 Nicole A. Ozer (CA SBN 228643) nozer@aclunc.org
 
Matthew T. Cagle (CA SBN 286101) mcagle@aclunc.org AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION FOUNDATION OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA 39 Drumm Street San Francisco, California 94111 Telephone: (415) 621-2493 Facsimile: (415) 255-8437
 Attorneys for Amici Curiae Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Mark Udall, & Senator Martin Heinrich
 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES
et al.
,
Plaintiffs
, v.  NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
et al.
,
 Defendants
. Case No. 3:13-cv-03287 JSW
BRIEF OF
 AMICI CURIAE
 SENATOR RON WYDEN, SENATOR MARK UDALL & SENATOR MARTIN HEINRICH IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS
 
123456789101112131415161718192021222324
 
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
et al.
v. National Security Agency
et al.,
 
Case No. 3: 13-cv-03287 JSW BRIEF OF
 AMICI 
 WYDEN, UDALL & HEINRICH IN SUPP. OF PLS.’ MOT. FOR PARTIAL S.J. Page i
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES .................................................................................................. i INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................1 ARGUMENT ..........................................................................................................................3 I.
 
AMICI HAVE SEEN NO EVIDENCE THAT THE BULK COLLECTION OF AMERICANS’ PHONE RECORDS HAS PROVIDED USEFUL INTELLIGENCE UNOBTAINABLE THROUGH LESS INTRUSIVE MEANS .................................3 A.
 
Amici have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’  phone records under Section 215 is uniquely necessary to the national security of the United States ..........................................................3 B.
 
The government possesses a number of legal authorities with which it may obtain the call records of suspected terrorists and those in contact with suspected terrorists .....................................................8 C.
 
Amici have seen no evidence that bulk collection was necessary to obtain information critical to specific counterterrorism investigations .............................................................................................11 II.
 
THE GOVERNMENT’S LEGAL INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 215 COULD BE EXTENDED TO AUTHORIZE BULK COLLECTIONS OF AMERICANS’ DATA BEYOND THE CALL RECORDS AT ISSUE IN THIS CASE ..............................................................................................................14 CONCLUSION .....................................................................................................................15
 
123456789101112131415161718192021222324
 
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
et al.
v. National Security Agency
et al.,
 
Case No. 3: 13-cv-03287 JSW BRIEF OF
 AMICI 
 WYDEN, UDALL, & HEINRICH IN SUPP. OF PLS.’ MOT. FOR PARTIAL S.J. Page ii
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES Cases
 
 In re Application of the FBI for an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things from [Redacted]
, No. BR 13-80 (FISC Apr. 25, 2013) ...............................................10
 In re Production of Tangible Things
, No. BR 08-13 (FISC Mar. 2, 2009) ..................................4
 In re Production of Tangible Things
, No. BR 08-13, 2008 WL 9475145 (FISC Dec. 12, 2008) ...........................................................................................................................9
 In re Production of Tangible Things
, No. BR 13-109, 2013 WL 5741573 (FISC Aug. 29, 2013) .....................................................................................................................5, 15
Statutes
 
18 U.S.C. § 2702 ...........................................................................................................................9 18 U.S.C. § 2703 ...........................................................................................................................9 18 U.S.C. § 2709 .....................................................................................................................9, 10 18 U.S.C. § 3122 ...........................................................................................................................9 18 U.S.C. § 3125 ...........................................................................................................................9 50 U.S.C. § 1842 ...........................................................................................................................9 50 U.S.C. § 1843 .........................................................................................................................10 50 U.S.C. § 1861 ...........................................................................................................................9
Other Authorities
 
155 Cong. Rec. S9563 (daily ed. Sept. 17, 2009) .........................................................................2 157 Cong. Rec. S3258 (daily ed. May 24, 2011) ..........................................................................2 157 Cong. Rec. S3360 (daily ed. May 25, 2011) ..........................................................................1 157 Cong. Rec. S3386 (daily ed. May 26, 2011) ....................................................................1, 15 157 Cong. Rec. S3389 (daily ed. May 26, 2011) ........................................................................15 159 Cong. Rec. S6056 (daily ed. July 30, 2013) ........................................................................12

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