Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against USA Freedom Act, Calls for Real Reform to Protect American’s Privacy
Washington, D.C.– Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted against the USA Freedom Act, a bill that has been fundamentally altered since its original introduction in 2013. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has been a leading voice and critic of the NSA’s overreaching surveillance programs, and has worked in a bipartisan way to strengthen oversight over the intelligence community. The bill passed the House with a vote of 338-88, and now heads to the Senate.
“There are two main things that are of great and equal importance to the American people: our safety and security, and our freedom and civil liberties. One is just as important as the other. There’s no use being safe if we’re not free, and being free but not safe is unacceptable,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “I reject the idea that the American people must choose to either be safe or free. The problem with Section 215 as well as other provisions of the PATRIOT Act is that they undermine both our national security and our civil liberties. These measures have proven to be ineffective and a waste of resources that should be used to target our enemies rather than to collect data and information on Americans.”
"This bill does not go far enough to reform the PATRIOT Act and the overreaching surveillance activities that are currently being conducted. Congress should not set precedence by codifying these surveillance programs that the Federal Courts have ruled are illegal. Congress should let these controversial provisions expire and instead work toward comprehensive reform of the PATRIOT Act that will truly keep the American people safe and free.”
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the NSA’s phone surveillance program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is illegal.
As part of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s ongoing efforts to reform the NSA and protect civil liberties, she is a cosponsor of Surveillance State Repeal Act which prohibits warrantless surveillance and prevents the NSA from mandating or requesting “back doors” into commercial products that can be used for surveillance.
Additionally, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today reintroduced the Strengthening Privacy, Oversight, and Transparency Act (SPOT Act), which would expand the role of and strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent government watchdog agency. The Board is an important asset in oversight of the intelligence community and serves as an advocate for the civil liberties of Americans.