November 29, 2015

Wyden Statement on End of NSA Phone Records Dragnet

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., hailed the end of the National Security Agency’s phone records dragnet, which was officially shut down today, as the result of the USA Freedom Act. Wyden fought for nearly a decade to draw attention to secret interpretations of the Patriot Act that the government used to justify this bulk collection, and then to end this unnecessary program that violated Americans’ privacy.

“This is a victory for everyone who believes in protecting both American security and Americans’ constitutional rights. Today the NSA is shutting down a mass surveillance program that needlessly violated the privacy of millions of Americans every day, without making our country any safer,” Wyden said.

This program’s very existence was concealed from the American public for over a decade.  Across two administrations, senior officials from US intelligence agencies and the Justice Department repeatedly made false and misleading statements that concealed the truth about what they were doing.  These officials relied on a secret body of law to justify the mass surveillance of the American people. 

Fortunately, in America sooner or later the truth always comes out.  When Americans found out about this secret, unconstitutional surveillance two years ago, they were rightfully outraged.  And they made their voices heard.  The result was historic reform legislation that required the government to shut this program down. 

I am grateful to every American who stood up and made his or her voice count on this issue, and to all of my colleagues who listened to them. Former senators Russ Feingold and Mark Udall, in particular, both fought tirelessly to end mass surveillance long before it was public.  

In fifteen years of service on the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have seen many reminders that this is a dangerous world, and the recent attacks in Paris and Mali are just the latest brutal examples.  After every such attack, politicians who would play to Americans’ fears call for liberty to be sacrificed in the name of security.  I reject those calls.  And as long as Americans continue to demand that their government protect both their security and their liberty, I am confident that our country can deal with these threats without sacrificing our most cherished rights and values.”