U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said he is profoundly concerned by fresh disclosures, reported in the Washington Post, that the National Security Agency repeatedly violated privacy rules.
“I am quite disturbed by the news that the NSA violated laws and internal procedures established to protect Americans’ privacy nearly 3,000 times in just one year,” Himes said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “I have been assured by the leadership in the intelligence community and by the President that there has been no abuse of these programs. These assurances factored into my decision to vote against the Amash amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act, so this new report is profoundly concerning to me. While I understand that a majority of these incidents, particularly those related to roaming, were mistakes, the bottom line is that when we are talking about constitutional rights, we need a system and culture that is zero-tolerance—the NSA must foster a culture and systems that fully protect the rights of the American people as it works to protect us from harm.”
“It is clear based on today’s reports that we need to examine and improve those systems and culture within the NSA and improve congressional oversight of our nation’s intelligence gathering. While a system of this magnitude will never be without errors, the intelligence community should lean into, not away from, reporting violations of privacy to Congress. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on the committee to ensure these kinds of mistakes do not happen again and that the civil liberties of the American people are being fully respected.”
The Post report was based on a leaked internal audit from May, 2012, violated privacy rules related to the government’s datat collection programs 2,776 times in a one-year period. According to the audit, 1,904 of these instances were “roamers” — cases where a foreigner whose cellphone was being wiretapped without a warrant came to the United States, where warrants are required.
Himes voted no on an amendment last month by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, that would have defunded the NSA’s data-collection program.