Tester demands answers about Justice Department’s surveillance program

After reports of decades of surveillance, Senator asks if Administration still possesses citizen call records

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester is demanding answers from the U.S. Justice Department after a news report revealed that the department tracked and collected billions of international phone calls from law abiding Americans.

Tester sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart highlighting the “troubling infringement upon the privacy rights of countless law-abiding Americans.” In his letter, Tester demanded assurances that Americans are no longer having their privacy violated by phone call surveillance.

“Montanans, like all Americans, are rightly concerned by these recent revelations and deserve a transparent accounting of the program’s history and current status,” Tester wrote. “They expect and deserve a higher level of privacy than what has been detailed in the reporting on this particular program.”

Tester specifically asked Administration officials for answers on the length and details of the surveillance program – including if the Justice Department still possesses any of the call records collected under the program.

Recent media reports indicate that the Justice Department’s phone data collection began in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush and that the program was subsequently approved by top Justice Department officials in each of the three succeeding Administrations.

Tester, a staunch advocate for privacy rights, fought for Montanans’ privacy rights last year as a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and cosponsored bipartisan legislation to keep personal information of Montana drivers private.

Tester’s letter demanding answers and transparency from the Justice Department can be read HERE.