National Security vs. Personal Privacy: Pushing the Administration for Answers on NSA Spying

This Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee, we held a hearing with government officials from the DOJ, NSA, and FBI to investigate the Administration’s collecting of personal phone records and other data. According to an unscientific survey I conducted in a recent newsletter92% of respondents believe the NSA's tracking of our phone records violates the 4th Amendment and our right to personal privacy. I’m with the 92%. In my opinion, the NSA's gathering of metadata on all calls without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion is exactly the type of activity the 4th Amendment was drafted to prohibit. In fact, it may also violate our First Amendment rights of freedom of association and free speech.

I came to Wednesday's hearing ready to make my concerns known and get answers from the government agencies authorized to gather this information. During my round of questioning, I pressed Deputy Attorney General James Cole to find out where the government draws the line between national security and personal privacy. I also addressed the question the majority of us are wondering: if the government is allowed to circumvent the Constitution to investigate terrorism – which of our civil liberties are still protected by the 1st and 4th Amendments? To hear Deputy Attorney General Cole’s response, click here.

I still have a lot of questions about the impact of intelligence gathering on our personal liberties, and I intend to do everything possible to get to the bottom of it. Congress has a duty to conduct vigorous oversight of the Executive Branch – including its government agencies. I fully intend to continue doing just that.

*My exchange with Deputy Attorney General Cole at our hearing was covered by some top national news outlets this week (BuzzfeedHuffington Post, and The Blaze to name a few). For the full list of news stories featuring my questioning from Wednesday’s hearing, make sure to check out the “Latest News” section in the right sidebar.


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