Tester protecting Montanans from unnecessary government surveillance

Senator joins bipartisan call demanding information from intelligence chief

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is once again standing up for Montanans’ civil liberties.

Tester is calling for the nation’s top intelligence official to release more information about the number of Americans’ communications secretly collected by the U.S. government. 

Tester, who has repeatedly voted against the Patriot Act and other measures that threaten Americans’ privacy rights, says law-abiding Americans have the right to be protected against warrantless wiretaps and to know how many of their communications may have been collected under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

The law, which is being considered for reauthorization, was intended to give the government new authority to collect the communications of foreigners located outside of the United States.  However, privacy rights supporters have noted the law may be used to spy on Americans.

“We are concerned that Congress and the public do not currently have a full understanding of the impact that this law has had on the privacy of law-abiding Americans,” Tester wrote National Intelligence Director James Clapper.  “In particular, we are alarmed that the intelligence community has stated that it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located inside the United States whose communications may have been reviewed.” 

Tester, whose bipartisan letter was signed by 12 other Senators, also wants to know whether the government has conducted warrantless searches of the phone calls or emails of individual Americans.

Tester, who considers U.S. troops and intelligence agents the best-trained and smartest in the world, is a fierce defender of the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.

“When we give up our rights, we give way to exactly what terrorists want for us: fewer freedoms and invasion of privacy,” Tester added.

Tester is a long-time opponent of the Patriot Act and has voted against it and the federal REAL ID program multiple times.

Tester’s bipartisan letter, signed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to National Intelligence Director James Clapper is available online HERE.