Reid Welcomes NSA Ruling, Is Open to Restrictive Legislation

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 09:35 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Joining other senators who welcomed a federal ruling that the National Security Agency's cellphone snooping is likely unconstitutional, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's now open to legislation that would curb some of the agency's data collection, two reports said.

"We know that senators, both Democrats and Republicans, would like to change the law that relates to some of the collection activities," Reid said Tuesday, according to Politico
and the Huffington Post.

"I think that's good, I think we need a good, public debate on this," Reid said.

NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon "a wake-up call to those who are supporting the status quo" that "puts at risk the liberties of the people and is damaging our economy."

"I think our side is on the march," he said, the Huffington Post reported.

But Reid said Leon's ruling isn't crystal-clear.

"All the rulings that have taken place on bulk collection, they don't agree with what Leon said," Reid said, the Huffington Post reported.

He's not alone in his concern: Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein,D-Ca., one of the NSA's biggest supporters, noted that a federal court decision last month ruled the NSA's business records program constitutional, Politico reported.

But on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on Tuesday, Feinstein eased up on her insistence, in an op-ed piece she wrote for The Wall Street Journal in October, that the program "is necessary and must be preserved if we are to prevent terrorist attacks."

"I'm not saying it's indispensable," she said Tuesday. "But I'm saying that it is important, and it is a major tool in ferreting out a potential terrorist attack."

Feinstein said that "only the Supreme Court can resolve the question on the constitutionality of the NSA’s program . . . I am very eager to see the court take this case. We will know once and for all," the Huffington Post quoted her as saying.

Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss criticized Leon's ruling, calling it "very disturbing," Politico reported.

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