It is the federal government’s Constitutional duty to protect its citizens, and confronting the threats to our nation's security – both imminent and long-term – should always be our top priority. At the same time, we must strike an appropriate balance between security and the privacy of our citizens.
I was proud that my colleagues and I enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendations during the first full week of the 110th Congress – after more than two years of inaction. But protecting our country is an ongoing process that includes working to ensure our intelligence community has the support it needs and our local responders have the resources to get the job done. Local responders are the backbone of our security network, and I believe that while we support our federal defense, response, and intelligence agencies, we must also prepare police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical teams.
Congress faces many national security imperatives today. Protecting America from possible terrorist attacks will remain at the top of my agenda, and I am determined to enact legislation that will prevent future attacks, support local law enforcement, and keep Americans safe.
At the same time, we must be careful not to violate Constitutional protections of privacy in our pursuit of a more secure nation.
I am deeply troubled by continuing revelations that the National Security Agency has collected vast amounts of Americans’ private data, routinely engaged in unauthorized searches of that data, and subverted court orders intended to narrow the agency’s monitoring operations. These revelations have ignited a fierce debate in Congress and among the American people about what privacy – if any – we should sacrifice in the interest of national security. They have also brought into sharp relief Congress' responsibility to provide direct oversight of our intelligence agencies, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
The House recently voted on a measure that sought to end the authority for blanket collection of records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. I voted in favor of the measure. Although it failed in a close vote, I expect similar legislative efforts to continue. During these and future deliberations, I will continue to support legislation that mandates accountability for all federal government programs – especially those that impact our civil liberties.