Wyden doesn't support Paul's NSA lawsuit

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) on Thursday said he doesn’t support Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) lawsuit against President Obama and the National Security Agency.

"I believe that legislation, not a Senate-brought lawsuit is the only effective way to stop this behavior of the NSA,” Wyden said in a statement provided to The Hill.

Wyden has been an outspoken critic of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, which he's described as unconstitutional.

In an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt, he said he'd worked closely with Paul on the NSA issue. 

"Both of us feel, Al, that the government ought to be able to collect the information it needs when it needs it to protect our citizens ... but the reality is, the idea of collecting millions and millions of phone records on law-abiding Americans doesn't make us any more secure," Wyden said. "It undermines our liberty. I personally believe that, yes, it is unconstitutional to collect millions and millions of phone records on law-abiding Americans. It violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Bloomberg News issued a press release touting the interview that said Wyden suggested he backed Paul's lawsuit.

But Wyden's office said Paul does not back the suit, which Paul filed on Wednesday as a private citizen in Washington, D.C.’s district court.

Paul's class action lawsuit against the Obama administration claims the president and intelligence agencies have violated the Fourth Amendment with their surveillance activities. He asserted that the NSA’s program is the “modern equivalent” of British lawlessness and government overreach during the Revolutionary War.

The lawsuit seeks immediate injunctive relief to the surveillance, and calls for an end to the NSA’s metadata program that tracks phone calls made in the United States. Paul wants the NSA to get rid of all records it’s collected in the last five years. 

 

In early January, Wyden called on Obama to end the metadata program and reform the process by which the agency obtains the information. He advocated that intelligence agencies first seek approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court.

A week later, Obama announced such a change, along with other NSA reforms. He called for the metadata program to be moved out of the government’s hands, and for the government to seek FISA approval in the future. Obama has tasked Attorney General Eric Holder and intelligence leaders with determining where the records will be housed.

This post was updated at 7:23 p.m.