Durbin: FISA declassification bill dead on arrival

The effort has the backing of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyTop Senate Dem to Trump: It would be a 'grave mistake' to follow in Richard Nixon's footsteps Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Hillicon Valley: Mueller delivers report, ending investigation | FEMA exposed info of 2.3M disaster survivors | Facebook asks judge to toss DC privacy lawsuit | Trump picks his first CTO | FCC settles lawsuit over net neutrality records MORE (D-Vt.), according to a release from Wyden's office.

Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (R-Nev.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichFormer GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world Dem governors on 2020: Opposing Trump not enough MORE (D-Alaska), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMan who threatened to kill Obama, Maxine Waters faces up to 20 years in prison Gillibrand defends her call for Franken to resign Gillibrand: Aide who claimed sexual harassment was 'believed' MORE (D-Minn.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ White House pleads with Senate GOP on emergency declaration MORE (D-Mont.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (R-Utah) have also signed on as co-sponsors to the proposed legislation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite the bipartisan support for the legislation, Durbin was doubtful the Obama administration would sign it into law.

"I think they are going to eventually turn us down," he added, regarding the White House's response to declassifying FISA court opinions.

"They are [just] going to say no," he added.

The bill comes after classified information on two domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) were leaked by Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old government contractor.

Details of the NSA programs were published in The Guardian and The Washington Post last week.

One program was designed to collect cellphone data from Verizon customers to track terror threats, and a second program, PRISM, collected data from tech companies on foreign Internet users.

President Obama and the heads of the Senate and House Intelligence committees have defended the programs as critical to national security, and said they did not violate the civil liberties of American citizens.

"I think there needs to be more transparency here, but I think we can achieve it without jeopardizing national security," said to Durbin.

A possible compromise to the Markey-Wyden bill, Durbin said, would be having more lawmakers outside the Armed Services and Intelligence panels briefed on programs similar to the NSA surveillance operations.

"I think that is a good option," Durbin said.

The White House said Congress had been briefed on the operations, but many lawmakers say they were unaware of the programs and are demanding more information.

"The reality is [the White House] has made some classified materials available ... [but] during the regular course of events, it is a very limited number of Senators and congressman who are regularly apprised of developments" on sensitive intelligence or national security operations, the majority whip said.

Durbin has repeatedly pressed for additional congressional oversight of intelligence and national security efforts, particularly those like the NSA programs disclosed last week.

"I have been offering these amendments for years ... and losing them, regularly," Durbin said.

"And the two areas I have been focusing on are the two areas that came out last week," he added, referring to the clandestine monitoring of phone and Internet traffic of U.S. citizens.

Those failed amendments, according to Durbin, would have "established a specific connection between information sought and suspicion of terrorism, rather than a more generalized collection, which is going on right now."