News / USA

US Lawmakers Call for Surveillance Reforms

US Lawmakers Call for Surveillance Reformsi
X
January 16, 2014 11:12 PM
As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil reforms to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, some lawmakers are already calling on Congress to act to protect the privacy and civil liberties of those whose phone and e-mail records are being collected. The president is expected to turn to Congress to help establish limits on government surveillance. VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill.
Cindy Saine
As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil reforms to the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, some lawmakers are already calling on Congress to act to protect the privacy and civil liberties of those whose phone and e-mail records are being collected.  The president is expected to turn to Congress to help establish limits on government surveillance.  

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the sweeping nature of U.S. programs to collect billions of phone records of Americans and to spy on some U.S. allies overseas, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

An unusual coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republican lawmakers are demanding policy changes - to restore confidence at home and abroad.  Republican

“I do think it has done damage to the United States abroad," said Representative Cynthia Lummis. "I would like to see a more rational basis for collecting that kind of data."
 
Lummis is co-sponsor of a House bill that would require U.S. intelligence agencies to notify Congress of their total budgets for intelligence gathering each year.  She says more transparency is needed.

“Not to their methods, and not to details, but rather why Americans’ personal information is being retained for five years, why it is necessary that every American have that information trapped in a database," she said.

Some lawmakers have concluded that the massive phone records program is not valuable enough to national security to justify the intrusion on American’s privacy. 
 
“We are really having a debate about Americans’ fundamental relationship with their own government," said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. "The government exists for Americans, not the other way around." 

Other lawmakers defend the programs and reject calls for major changes by a panel of experts. 

“Some of the recommendations in the report appear to make it more difficult to investigate a terrorist than a common criminal," said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.

Other lawmakers expressed concern that some terrorist attacks have suceeded - including the Boston marathon bombing last year - despite the massive surveillance. 

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he thinks many Americans would prefer more scrutiny on what he called "bad guys."

“People that we have reason to suspect may be planning a terrorist attack, and far more protection for law-abiding citizens who have committed no transgressions," he said.

Privacy advocates say Congress needs to take responsibility for reining in surveillance. 

“Congress is the place that we have democratic debates about what the right balance ought to be between security and liberty," said Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology.  "And to be honest, since 9/11, it has been very difficult to have those debates."

Analysts say President Obama will turn to Congress to help craft reforms that will satisfy the demands of privacy advocates, U.S. allies and national security concerns.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid