Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers on the NSA’s surveillance programs, said on Sunday that the government should move quickly to implement the White House’s reform recommendations, and suggested that by the end of next year, the NSA will no longer be collecting massive amounts of Americans’ phone data.
“The arguments of the status quo … fell apart this week in Washington,” Udall said on ABC’s This Week, referring to the recently released White House NSA reform report and a federal judge’s ruling that the NSA’s phone data collection program is probably unconstitutional.
The White House panel report, which some have criticized for not going far enough, said the NSA should end secret record collection, called for an independent privacy board, urged more protections for whistleblowers, and said the secret court that authorizes surveillance should be held more accountable. One panel member said the NSA provided no evidence that the bulk data collection programs had prevented terror attacks.
“The NSA has overreached. We need to quickly move to adopt the 46 recommendations of the president’s panel,” Udall said, qualifying that he had not looked at all the recommendations and added, “I’m still studying the report myself but there are many, many important reforms.”
“It’s hard for me to believe,” Udall added, “that these general warrants, if you will, and orders to collect every day tens of millions of Americans’ phone records is somehow constitutional.”
This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Udall if “one year from now will the federal government still be collecting Americans’ phone records?”
“If I have anything to say about it, no,” Udall said. “We’ve got to end the bulk collection. We can still use metadata concepts but when we need those phone records the NSA ought to go to the court, ought to get an order and then get those phone records. And by the way I think those phone records ought to be held by a third party.”
However, the Colorado senator didn’t appear to be too sympathetic to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who was responsible for leaking the NSA secrets, saying that he should face charges. “He broke his oath, he broke the law. Come home, make the case that somehow there was a higher purpose here. But Edward Snowden ought to come back to the United States,” Udall said.