Ellison: ‘We need to review the law’ after NSA news

WASHINGTON — Rep. Keith Ellison told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs mean it’s time for Congress to review laws governing U.S. intelligence operations.

Ellison said “it’s a fiction” that every member of Congress was informed about the NSA’s collection of American phone records and tech company data, information that leaked out via reports from the Guardian and Washington Post last week. Lawmakers should consider whether that’s necessary and effective going forward, he said.

Ellison said:

I think we need to review the law. I think it casts too wide a net, and I think we ought to remember that the best way to protect the American public is to have active police work that follows up on leads that actually exist. Just figuring out what somebody’s phone calls are in Peoria or Minneapolis for that matter, anybody who’s not even connected, I don’t think its worthwhile. And if it is, I think somebody needs to come and make that case about why they need that information. We passed this law when we were very much afraid, for a legitimate reason, and its time to come back and really introduce privacy into the conversation.

The NSA news has created strange alliances between lawmakers from the right and the left, and in this case, it has Ellison agreeing with the Republican author of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, who last week that the law doesn’t permit this kind of data collection

On the other hand, a handful of key Democrats and Republicans have defended the program as key to American security, including President Obama and lawmakers on the hill.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 06/10/2013 - 09:16 am.

    Ask Congress…

    How do you spell SURVEILLANCE in a closed society?

    S-I-L-E-N-C-E.

  2. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 06/10/2013 - 12:19 pm.

    Reviewing the laws

    That might be a start but no matter how these activities are cast in terms of legality (all of it secret), I am afraid they would continue anyway. We know only about some of this, in my view, and I suspect there’s a lot more such activity.
    Maybe if people hear enough and get fed up enough, that will make a difference.
    My distrust of government grows every day, lately. And to think this is Obama’s doing! He really conned us into believing he would halt some of this unconstitutionality and secret stuff.
    He is such a disappointment. I’m not sure Romney would have been much worse.
    I think an underlying issue for all of this is to get money out of politics.

  3. Submitted by David Frenkel on 06/10/2013 - 12:26 pm.

    Telecom

    I am against this type of broad surveillance but the reality is that it is not worth the time and money that this type of data collection would cost. I have worked with the telecom companies collecting data for legitimate commercial business reasons. The amount of data the telecoms create is huge and its quality is very unreliable. Go for it and good luck.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/10/2013 - 02:07 pm.

    Whether the data being collected and analyzed is for the government, as the NSA revelations show, or the omniverous and equally secret world of business, privacy is going down the drain in the U. S. Gigantic databases provide profiles of each of us, and it’s the huge quantity of it that makes the analysis valid at all. Businesses now know all about us. The government is just trying to catch up.

  5. Submitted by David Frenkel on 06/11/2013 - 08:43 am.

    Government contractors

    For some reason the news media has not mentioned that these NSA leaks came from a contractor working for Booz Allen whose primary business is defense and intelligence work for the US government. The bigger question is the heavy reliance on government contractors who the government pays a premium for and often has limited control over.

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