WASHINGTON—Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) released the following statement at the conclusion of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on oversight of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Related Surveillance Authorities, which featured testimony from senior administration national security officials who discussed the surveillance program as the program’s sunset nears:
“My stance today is the same as it was when I served in the House: I have major concerns about authorities granted under Section 702 of FISA and stand strong in my belief that we must take additional steps to protect civil liberties, curb abuses, and increase transparency about how searches are conducted by our intelligence agencies.
“Today’s hearing should be our first in a series of serious discussions about the scale, scope, and utility of government surveillance programs. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle work in good faith to codify in statute reforms that have been made to-date by our intelligence agencies and put forward additional reforms before we consider the reauthorization of this program. We must, as a Committee, take these steps, before moving forward on this legislation.”