A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday that aims to strengthen accountability at the National Security Agency by allowing the president to appoint the inspector general (IG).
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Maine), Jon TesterJon TesterUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief urges Congress to approve budget boost | Senate fight over NATO addition MORE (D-Mont.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Dan CoatsDan CoatsMcCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Oversight committee asks White House, FBI for Flynn records Live coverage: FBI director testifies to Congress MORE (R-Ind.) introduced S. 2439, the NSA Internal Watchdog Act.
Currently the NSA director hires the IG, but under their bill, it would be a presidentially appointed position that requires Senate confirmation.
“I don’t know how you can be an independent watchdog if you owe your job to the head of the agency,” McCaskill said. “This bipartisan legislation would inject real independent oversight into the agency and help strengthen accountability over its activities.”
The bill also require the IG to conduct annual reviews of whistleblower protections for agency employees, gives the IG subpoena power over employees who have left the agency, and mandates that any IG audit or investigation include an assessment of a program’s effect on civil liberties.
Lawmakers have grown concerned that NSA programs violate constitutional rights to privacy after information was leaked about domestic surveillance.