Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Unconstitutional Surveillance of Americans’ Communications

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai'i 02), a founding member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, voted today, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, against legislation to reauthorize the warrantless collection of Americans' calls, emails, texts and other communications.

Authorized in 2008, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), has allowed for the massive government exploitation of personal privacy through the collection and retention of American citizens' communications that are swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets,  S.139, which passed by a vote of 256-164 today, reauthorizes this program for six years, Rep. Gabbard's press release said.

Prior to the vote, Rep. Gabbard spoke on the House floor urging Congress to adopt a bipartisan amendment to the bill that she helped introduce that would reform Section 702, allowing foreign intelligence collection to continue, while protecting Americans' constitutional rights and civil liberties by requiring due process and warrants.

The amendment includes Rep. Gabbard's Preventing Unconstitutional Collection Act (H.R.2588) introduced last year, and also includes provisions of Gabbard's SPOT Act. The USA Rights Amendment, which is supported by the ACLU, FreedomWorks, NAACP, Campaign for Liberty, and others, failed by a vote of 183-233.

Congresswomani Gabbard said:

"Since 2001, the civil liberties of the American people have been trampled on under the blank check of Section 702. This program exists to allow our government to surveil foreigners on foreign soil, but has also allowed our government to collect, retain, and search communications of everyday Americans without a warrant and with blatant disregard for our Fourth Amendment constitutional rights.

"We have a very important responsibility to strike a balance between national security to keep the American people safe, while also protecting our constitutionally protected freedoms. I urge my colleagues to vote for our bipartisan USA Rights Amendment today, which maintains necessary authorities to keep the American people safe, while also simultaneously protecting our civil liberties. Unfortunately, opponents of the USA Rights Amendment are pushing fear tactics and misinformation - don't fall for it. Let us make this critical choice. Vote to keep our country safe. Vote to uphold our constitutional rights that so many have fought and died to protect."

Rep. Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government's responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age.