[Congressional Record Volume 159, Number 87 (Tuesday, June 18, 2013)]
[Pages S4587-S4590]


      By Mr. UDALL of Colorado (for himself, Mr. Wyden, Ms. Murkowski, 
        Mr. Udall of New Mexico, Mr. Begich, Mr. Merkley, and Mr. Lee):
  S. 1182. A bill to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 
of 1978 to require specific evidence for access to business records and 
other tangible things, and provide appropriate transition procedures, 
and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise to speak on an issue 
that is critical to our constitutional rights and our national 
security. The revelation and subsequent declassification of the 
National Security Agency's intelligence gathering programs have shocked 
Americans in ways that I long ago had telegraphed. We are having a 
spirited and critical debate about what the right balance between 
privacy and security ought to be. With regards to NSA activity, I am 
introducing bipartisan legislation today, with several senators of both 
parties, designed to narrow Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, known 
also as the ``business records'' provision, to better balance the 
authorities we give the federal government while protecting our 
constitutional rights. More specifically, my legislation would prevent 
the federal government from collecting millions of law-abiding 
Americans' phone call records without first establishing some nexus to 
terrorism. We all expect the NSA to target terrorists, but the 
revelations in the past few weeks have made clear that the information 
of millions of law-abiding Americans is being swept up in the process.
  Let me start by saying that I continue to feel that a number of the 
permanent PATRIOT Act provisions

[[Page S4590]]

should remain in place to give our intelligence community important 
tools to fight terrorism. But I also believe, as I stated two years ago 
when offering this same legislation as an amendment to the PATRIOT Act 
reauthorization bill, that Section 215 of this Act fails to strike the 
right balance between keeping us safe and protecting the privacy rights 
of Americans. Indeed, my concerns about this provision of the law have 
only grown since I was first briefed on its secret interpretation and 
implementation as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  From the recent leaks and information since declassified about the 
Section 215 collection program, we know that the Foreign Intelligence 
Surveillance Court has interpreted this provision of the PATRIOT Act to 
permit the collection of millions of Americans' phone records on a 
daily, ongoing basis. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, 
I have repeatedly expressed concern that the interpretation of this 
provision of the PATRIOT Act, which allows the government to obtain 
``any tangible thing'' relevant to a national security investigation, 
is at odds with the plain meaning of the law. This secrecy has 
prevented Americans from understanding how these laws are being 
implemented in their name. That is unacceptable.
  Even before the nature of the bulk phone records collection program 
was declassified, there was support for narrowing the language of 
Section 215 from many in Congress and many Americans who feel strongly 
about their constitutional right to privacy. In fact, the PATRIOT Act 
reauthorization that passed the Senate in 2005 by unanimous consent 
included language that would limit the government's ability to collect 
Americans' personal information without a demonstrated link to 
terrorism or espionage. While that language did not prevail in 
conference, it demonstrated that bipartisan agreement on reforms to 
Section 215 is possible.
  In 2011, as the Senate took up the extension of a number of expiring 
provisions of the PATRIOT Act, I offered an amendment drawn directly 
from language in the 2005 Senate-passed bill to narrow the application 
of this provision. That amendment unfortunately did not receive a vote. 
But today, along with my colleague Sen. Wyden and others, I am back at 
it again--introducing bipartisan legislation drawn from that same 
  Our bipartisan bill would narrow the PATRIOT Act Section 215 
collection authority to make it consistent with what most Americans 
believe the law allows. While this legislation would still allow law 
enforcement and intelligence agencies to use the PATRIOT Act to obtain 
a wide range of records in the course of terrorism- and espionage-
related investigations, it would require them to demonstrate that the 
records are in some way connected to terrorism or clandestine 
intelligence activities--which is not the case today. I don't think it 
is unreasonable to ask our law enforcement agencies to identify a 
terrorism or espionage investigation before collecting the private 
information of American citizens.
  Many Coloradans share my belief that we need to place common-sense 
limits on government investigations and link data collection to 
terrorist- or espionage-related activities. If we cannot assert some 
nexus to terrorism, then the government should keep its hands off the 
phone data of law-abiding Americans.
  Let me be very clear: our government must continue to diligently and 
aggressively combat terrorism. We all agree with that critically 
important goal. But I do not think that it is unreasonable to ask that 
collection of phone data be limited to investigations that are actually 
related to terrorism or espionage. And I do not believe that we need to 
sacrifice national security to strike this balance. In fact, as a 
member of the Intelligence Committee who has studied our surveillance 
programs closely, it has not been demonstrated to me that the bulk 
phone records collection program has provided uniquely valuable 
information that has stopped terrorist attacks, beyond what is 
available through less intrusive means. But if we are going to continue 
providing this authority to collect phone data from Americans' 
communications, let's at least limit it to require a link to terrorism 
or espionage. This is a commonsense step that we can take to strike a 
better balance between keeping our country safe and respecting 
constitutional rights.
  I thank my colleagues who have cosponsored this legislation, and ask 
other colleagues to give it a close look. I will continue to press for 
the PATRIOT Act to be reopened for debate, and when that occurs, I will 
push for passage of this bipartisan bill that strikes a better balance 
between keeping our nation safe and unduly trampling our constitutional