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Posted at 7:39 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2013
Two top Democrats had predictably different takes on a federal court ruling Monday that a National Security Agency phone record collection program likely runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment.
Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the ruling a “surprise.” She predicted an appeal and perhaps a different result at the appellate level.
“It clearly, I think, will be appealed to go to the D.C. Circuit Court and we’ll get a much better fix, I think, on where this is. On one hand … I believe it’s healthy, I really do, to have this court oversight. That’s what this government is all about, and I respect it,” Feinstein told reporters. “On another hand, it’s surprising because we thought we were depending on United States Supreme Court law set in 1979 and carried out by 15 individual district court judges as members of the FISA court who authorize this every 90 days and have never, to the best of my knowledge” found the program unconstitutional.
Also predictably, Sen. Ron Wyden lauded the ruling.
“It is an astounding day when a federal judge says a government surveillance practice would leave James Madison aghast. What the judge is saying supports a position I’ve held for some time,” he said. “The idea of collecting all these phone records is not inoffensive data collection, as some of the proponents have said; it is digital surveillance.”
“Our bipartisan coalition is going to keep pushing very very hard to ensure that we come up with more effective approaches that ensure that our people are protected [and] we don’t invade their constitutional rights,” Wyden said.