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Congress Should Create A Church Committee for the 21st Century

  1. In light of this year's 40th anniversary of the Church Committee—legendary for exposing illegal mass domestic government surveillance during the 1960s and 1970s—the Wayne State University School of Law brought former Church Committee members together in Washington, D.C. to discuss how Congress can effectively oversee classified programs. The all-day event saw numerous experts and two key former Church Committee staffers—Fritz Swartz and Loch Johnson—unanimously call on Congress to reassert its oversight authority over intelligence programs.

    We couldn't agree more. EFF—as well as a dozen former staffers of the Church Committee—has called on Congress since 2013 to regain oversight over intelligence activities by creating a Church Committee for the 21st century.

    As a result of the 40th anniversary, we are releasing a report commissioned by EFF and written by the Berkeley Law School's Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic detailing why a new Church Committee is needed to investigate America's foreign surveillance activities, what it would investigate, and how it would be structured.

    Congress Must Investigate

    The topic is ripe for investigation since lawmakers have only begun to scratch the surface of the intelligence community's spying practices with the recently passed USA Freedom Act. It's important to remember the bill only addressed one publicly known program relating to Americans' calling records. In the past two years we've also learned the Intelligence Community collects innocent users' emails, text messages, financial transactions, buddy lists, address books, and other data with laws like Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12333.

    An investigation would also help inform the American public about how U.S. surveillance authorities are being implemented. It's abundantly clear the public wants an investigation: A coalition of over 100 civil liberties groups has called for an investigatory committee. A petition has reached over 500,000 signatures. And poll after poll shows that Americans—regardless of political party—are concerned about the Intelligence Community's activities. In an AP poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans said they oppose the NSA collecting data about their telephone and Internet usage..........................

    More at link: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/...-congress-reassert-authority-40th-anniversary