Rep. Schiff Praises Declassification of Metadata Program Documents, Pushes for Greater Transparency and Reforms

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declassified documents pertaining to the collection of telephone metadata pursuant to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, and pushed for further transparency and changes to the program and FISA Court:

“The decision by the Obama Administration to declassify further information about the NSA phone metadata program is a positive step that will help inform the public debate. The effort to provide greater transparency must not end here, and I urge the Administration to declassify additional decisions of the court, with a particular focus on providing clarity on the constitutional and statutory basis of NSA programs. I also hope the Administration will support legislation to require declassification of future decisions, not just past ones, so that we can assure that a more transparent FISA court becomes the rule for this and future administrations.

“Finally, we must look at changing the telephone metadata program by having phone companies retain their own data, rather of the government. This way each query would require a specific government warrant before the FISA Court, and Americans would have more confidence that their privacy is being protected, while achieving the same national security results.”

Schiff has introduced several pieces of legislation.  First, Schiff introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted the legal authorities created under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  Second, Schiff introduced legislation to require that the 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Finally, Schiff is planning on introducing legislation to require the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to create a pool of attorneys with experience in Fourth Amendment or national security law to argue the side of the public when the government requests a surveillance warrant in the FISA Court.