Udall hails 'milestone' surveillance reform

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on Sunday applauded President Obama for reaching “a milestone” with his proposal to reform the nation’s surveillance practices by placing additional limits on the collection of Americans’ telephone metadata.

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On Friday, the president announced a series of modest reforms to the top-secret surveillance programs, including a new requirement mandating intelligence agencies obtain judicial approval before reviewing databases of information about telephone calls.

He also ordered members of his administration to figure out a way to end the federal collection of the phone records, with the data instead likely to be held by telephone companies or a third party.

Udall said in an interview with “Face the Nation” on CBS that the president’s proposals “showed he was listening to those of us across the political spectrum.”

“We can be effective in protecting our country, but we don't need to collect every single phone record of every single American on every single day,” Udall said.

The Colorado lawmaker said there was “no example” of where the program, which collects information about phone numbers and call duration, “provided uniquely valuable intelligence.”

“We don't need it,” Udall declared, saying that by scaling back the program, the government would “keep faith with the Constitution, we lessen the cost involved and we rebuild trust in the intelligence community.”

But Udall also warned that unless the government made substantive progress toward the president’s reforms, there was a chance that the Congress would not reauthorize some of the controversial surveillance programs.

“I believe without real reform, not a veneer of reform, but the reform that the president's panel proposed and in many ways, the 0resident proposed on Friday, these laws will expire,” Udall said. “So we have real motivation to get it right and to work together.”