January 29, 2014

Wyden Statement at Senate Intelligence Committee’s Open Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) delivered the following statement prior to questioning senior Intelligence Community officials during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s open hearing. Wyden is a senior member of the Intelligence committee.

“The men and women of America’s intelligence agencies are overwhelmingly dedicated professionals and they deserve to have leadership that is trusted by the American people. Unfortunately, that trust has been seriously undermined by senior officials’ reckless reliance on secret interpretations of the law and battered by years of misleading and deceptive statements that senior officials made to the American people. These statements did not protect sources and methods that were useful in fighting terror. Instead they hid bad policy choices and violations of the liberties of the American people.

For example, the director of the NSA said publicly that the NSA doesn’t hold data on U.S. citizens. That was obviously untrue.  Justice Department officials testified that section 215 of the Patriot Act is analogous to grand jury subpoena authority. And that deceptive statement was made on multiple occasions. Officials also suggested that the NSA doesn’t have the authority to read Americans’ emails without a warrant but the FISA court opinions declassified last August showed that wasn’t true either.

For purposes of trying to move this dialogue along, because I don’t think this culture of misinformation is going to be easily fixed, I’d like to get into several other areas where the government’s interpretation of the law is still unclear.”

The statement and subsequent questions may be viewed below or here: