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Grassley on phone monitoring: Striking the right balance

This news story was published on January 26, 2014.
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By Senator Charles Grassley –

Senator Charles Grassley

Senator Charles Grassley

The most important responsibility of the federal government is to protect our national security, while at the same time preserving our civil liberties. This is a responsibility that’s getting harder to meet. Rapid changes in technology are making enemies more lethal, the world more interconnected, and privacy more subject to possible intrusion. We’re seeing this first-hand with the debate surrounding some of the surveillance programs the National Security Agency uses to help keep the country safe.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I’m the Ranking Member, has held several hearings on this very subject. Last week we heard from the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies about its recommendations for reforming some intelligence gathering programs.

I’m still evaluating the report, but it appears to be a mixed bag of ideas about a wide variety of subjects. The idea that the telephone metadata should be held by the phone companies is interesting, but that creates additional privacy concerns. In addition, I want to be sure we don’t rebuild the wall that existed between our law enforcement and intelligence communities before 9/11.

Last week, the President finally weighed in on these important issues. He reaffirmed his review group’s conclusion that these intelligence programs are valuable tools that help protect national security, and should not be dismantled.

However, his speech was in many ways short on the specifics about what he believes to be critical to striking the right balance between maintaining civil liberties and protecting national security. I look forward to hearing more specifics about his proposals as work continues in this area.

We need to rebuild the trust of the American people in our intelligence community. One way to do that would be to bring more transparency to the use of these surveillance authorities without harming our national security. In addition, all three branches of government need to do a better job of oversight to ensure that these authorities are used lawfully, and punish anyone who abuses them.

There are many different ideas out there to address these issues, and working through them will take time. The priority must be balancing the privacy rights of Americans under the Constitution with the core responsibility of the federal government for national security.

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3 Responses to Grassley on phone monitoring: Striking the right balance

  1. Avatar

    Arles Assley Reply Report comment

    January 26, 2014 at 7:12 am

    We need some new blood. This “John McCain” idea of, campaign till you fall over and die, needs to be rethought.

  2. Avatar

    Iowa Sucks Reply Report comment

    January 26, 2014 at 2:32 am

    What civil liberties? We gave those up many years ago.

    • Avatar

      LVS Reply Report comment

      January 26, 2014 at 10:28 am

      You should read the article before making any dumb A## comments.