Rep. Schiff Praises Steps for Further Transparency of FISA Court - Renews Call to Restructure Metadata Program

Washington, DC – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior member of the Intelligence Committee released the following statement after the President's press conference today:

“Today’s announcement by the President that he is committed to making the intelligence community more transparent, as well as making changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and Section 215 of the Patriot Act is an encouraging development. The Administration and Congress must now work together to make this commitment a reality, and take the necessary steps to keep us safe,while also adhering to our Constitution and our national values. 

It was especially heartening that the President is open to having an adversarial process in the FISC, and that he is willing to consider significant changes in the metadata collection program. For some time, I have been urging that the metadata program be restructured so that the data is held by the telecommunications companies rather than the government. I hope this is one of the reforms the President has in mind.  
The proposals that the President laid out today address elements of a package of reforms that I am working on in the House.  I look forward to working with the President on his proposals and on the areas that require Congressional action, including the need for FISA court judges to be confirmed by the Senate. While the President’s actions today are a welcome step, Congress must act to make these changes lasting – both in this and future Administrations.”

Schiff has introduced several pieces of legislation to reform the FISA Court to increase transparency and accountability.  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.