Tester responds to President’s surveillance speech

Senator: ‘Burden of proof must fall on the government’

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after President Obama’s speech on the federal government’s surveillance programs. Tester, a fierce defender of Montanans’ civil liberties and privacy rights, actively sought to curb government spying after last year’s revelations that the NSA is spying on American citizens:

“I’m glad the President is implementing many of my ideas to rein in government surveillance, but there is no substitute for an open and honest debate about these issues in Congress. Too many questions remain about the reach of intelligence agencies into Americans’ private lives. Striking the right balance between national security and civil liberties is difficult, but the burden of proof must fall on the government and not on Americans going about their daily lives.”

Tester constantly seeks to increase Americans’ privacy and has voted to repeal the Patriot Act multiple times, but after Edward Snowden last year revealed the extent to which the NSA collects Americans’ personal communications and information, Tester supported multiple bills to rein in government surveillance. Some of his measures, such as his call for the inclusion of a public advocate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the President supported today.

Tester, however, is also backing legislation to declassify more FISA Court rulings, change how judges are selected to the court and outlaw the widespread collection of Americans’ personal records.

Tester also successfully got the President to fill seats on and meet with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

President Obama today announced multiple proposals affecting how the government conducts surveillance in the wake of the NSA spying scandal. For a video of Tester giving remarks about Americans’ civil liberties, click HERE.