recommended reading

NSA Surveillance Bill Advances in Senate

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, talks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, talks with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. // Evan Vucci/AP

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation Thursday aimed at protecting the National Security Agency's controversial domestic-surveillance activities by taking steps to increase transparency and accountability.

The bill from Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., seeks to put to rest a growing debate over whether the NSA's surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans phone and Internet records are justifiable for national-security reasons.

The bill, which the committee approved 11-4, would impose criminal penalties for unauthorized access to phone-record data gained through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It also puts limits on the information's use, but it largely codifies current practices.

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider a further-reaching reform bill sponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that would end the NSA's sweeping bulk-data collection practices.

Reform advocates who support this approach are gunning for a fight with the Intelligence Committee over its bill.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who serves on the Intelligence Committee, voted against the Feinstein bill, criticizing it for falling short of "real" reform, and is cosponsoring Leahy's.

"Unfortunately, the bill passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go far enough to address the NSA's overreaching domestic surveillance programs," Udall said in a press release.

Feinstein said she looks forward to working with Leahy and the Judiciary Committee (where she also serves as the No. 2 Democrat) to move legislation to the Senate floor.

Questionable NSA practices keep making headlines, and keep getting lawmakers' attention. Another leak from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that made The Washington Post this week claims the NSA is infiltrating major Internet companies like Google and Yahoo.

Recent revelations that the U.S. monitored the cell-phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other foreign leaders prompted Feinstein this week to call for a full-scale intelligence review. But she told National Journal Daily that she needs additional resources and is talking to appropriators about it.

"We've taken a 20 percent cut in our budget, and we need some funds for some key staff to do this," she said.

This article appears in the November 1, 2013, edition of NJ Daily.

Threatwatch Alert

Software vulnerability

Malware Has a New Hiding Place: Subtitles

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.