Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), all members of the US Select Committee on Intelligence, have come out time after time as outspoken voices in the ongoing NSA surveillance scandal. Only last week, the trio expressed their disappointment with the agency's tracking program, and backed an EFF-led lawsuit that aims to put an end to the surveillance. Now, in a New York Times op-ed, the group again called for an end to all indiscriminate collection of the American public's data, stating that the trust lost by the spying program can be rebuilt.
"Only by ending the dragnet collection of ordinary Americans’ private information can this trust be rebuilt."
In the spirited piece, the senators reiterated their contention that the massive collection program known as PRISM in no measurable way benefited national security, stating that its usefulness was "greatly exaggerated." They also take the recently passed FISA bill to task for enabling "some of the most constitutionally questionable surveillance activities now exposed to the public eye," lionizing their own Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act. Their bill, which would end bulk surveillance and appoint a "constitutional advocate" to attend FISA meetings to defend privacy, is still in committee.
Senators Wyden, Udall, and Heinrich publish the piece at a time when Congress and administration official are struggling to address the NSA backlash. While Senate passed an "NSA Improvement" bill last month that aimed to limit surveillance activity, it's in fact unable to affect any real legal change. The senators' editorial puts added pressure on legislature to bring about more substantive reform.