New House Intel chief viewed NSA reform as unnecessary

The incoming House Intelligence chairman believes the National Security Agency reforms the House passed earlier this year were largely unnecessary. 

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesLIVE COVERAGE: Ways and Means begins Day 2 on .5T package Biden faces unfinished mission of evacuating Americans Nunes sues MSNBC, alleging Rachel Maddow defamed him MORE (R-Calif.) was selected to lead the House Intelligence Committee in the next Congress with the retirement of current chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). His position on a number of issues, including NSA reform, will become more important when he takes up the gavel next year. 

“At a time when the United States faces major international challenges including significant terror threats, I am honored and humbled to have been entrusted with this position," Nunes said Tuesday about his appointment. 


His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his views on the Senate version of the USA Freedom Act being debated this week, which would roll back government collection of Americans' phone records. But Nunes has previously said the NSA already contains "many layers of oversight." 

Nunes voted in favor of the House version of the USA Freedom Act in May, along with Rogers and most other Republicans. 

The legislation, however, lost support from a number of technology groups, outside advocates and Democrats when a compromised version hit the House floor. 

Nunes previously said the House legislation was largely unnecessary but "should address all the concerns raised by press coverage of the Snowden leaks," according to an op-ed he wrote in the National Review in July.

"For the last year, various groups have sought to curtail our intelligence activities based on selectively presented, maliciously leaked documents about anti-terror programs that are widely misunderstood and whose effects have been wildly exaggerated," he wrote in the op-ed. 

His piece titled, "Don't shackle the NSA now" was aimed at a separate amendment to a Defense appropriations bill that would require the government to get a warrant to search databases for information on U.S. citizens.


At the time, Nunes said the various NSA programs have been crucial in stopping dozens of terror attacks. And with the Middle East in turmoil, the United States should not retreat to a "pro-9/11 intel posture," he said. 

If the Senate approves its version of legislation on NSA reform, it would have to be reconciled with the House version before making it to President Obama's desk. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) legislation would end the government's bulk collection and storage of Americans' phone and other business records and would create privacy advocates to argue in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, among other things. 

The House version was meant to do many of the same things, but critics said too much legal ambiguity was left in the final version.