WASHINGTON — Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Mark Udall on Sunday challenged Congress to reopen the Patriot Act and add new legislative restrictions on the legal authority to spy on terrorist suspects he suggests is being abused by the Obama administration.
“I have called for a number of years now for the intelligence community to be more forthcoming about the amount of data they’re collecting on Americans,” Udall told CNN’s “State of the Union” talk show Sunday.
“The fact that every call I make to my friends, to my family is noted, where I am, the length of it, the date, that concerns me, particularly, because Americans didn’t know this. That’s why I’m calling for a reopening of the Patriot Act,” Udall said.
Udall serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, a panel tasked with oversight of the very surveillance program the Obama administration now stands accused of abusing. While some Democratic and Republican leaders suggest they have been briefed on this particular program, Udall has not confirmed whether he was included.
The Guardian reported last week on a court order that allows the National Security Agency to collect the telephone metadata on millions of Americans, whether or not they are terrorist or criminal suspects.
Udall confirmed that a second secret surveillance program that collects internet data is also sweeping up the information of innocent Americans.
President Barack Obama has defended the secret surveillance as a needed tool to protect the U.S. against terrorist attacks.
“You can complain about Big Brother, but when you actually look at the details, then, I think we’ve struck the right balance,” Obama said.
Udall disagrees and says most Americans would be shocked at how far the administration has gone in collecting private information.
“I think the line has been drawn too far towards we’re going to invade your privacy versus we’re going to respect your privacy,” Udall said. “I expect the government to protect my privacy. And it feels like that isn’t what’s been happening. I wish the administration had been more transparent.”
In addition, Udall appeared on ABC’s “This Week” program where he also questioned the president’s authority and how the law is being used.
“The law has been interpreted in a secret way,” Udall said.