January 16, 2019

William Barr Has Endorsed Unchecked Surveillance By the Government, Wyden Warns in Senate Speech

Wyden Intends to Introduce Legislation to Require Public Assessment Next week

Washington, D.C. –Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today spoke on the Senate floor to warn his colleagues about Attorney General nominee William Barr’s dangerously broad views about government surveillance.

“Based on his own testimony, it is clear that Mr. Barr has fundamental problems with the Fourth Amendment, or at least its application to anything that the President might unilaterally decide involves national security. He believes that if the government determines that there is a threat, there’s no need to ask a judge for a warrant,” Wyden said.  

Wyden, the Senate’s leading defender of Americans’ privacy and right to protection from unnecessary government surveillance, said the implications of Barr’s views should concern members on both sides of the aisle. 

“There are members of both parties who have long been concerned about expansive surveillance authorities under FISA or the possible abuse of FISA. But those concerns are small potatoes compared to what Mr. Barr has proposed – which is that the law need not constrain the president at all,” Wyden said. “For example, some members of this body have expressed concern about FISA warrants in connection with the Russia investigation and whether all relevant information has been provided to the FISA court. Now consider a world in which the government doesn’t need a warrant and doesn’t have to justify its surveillance to any court. Consider the possibility of abuse in that world. That is the world that William Barr wants.”

Read Wyden’s full remarks here.