December 17, 2013

Sen. Bernie Sanders weighed in following the judge's ruling that the NSA spying is likely unconstitutional:

In a blistering ruling, a federal judge on Monday declared that the wholesale collection of Americans' telephone records by the National Security Agency is likely to violate the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches. Moreover, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said, the program probably isn't effective in fighting terrorism. Sen. Bernie Sanders applauded ruling.

“In my view, the NSA is out of control and operating in an unconstitutional manner,” Sanders said. “Today’s ruling is an important first step toward reining in this agency but we must go further. I will be working as hard as I can to pass the strongest legislation possible to end the abuses by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.”

In the important ruling, Judge Leon granted a preliminary injunction in favor of two men who challenged the bulk collection of phone records and said the records should be destroyed. With a government appeal almost certain, the judge stayed enforcement of his decision.

This Tuesday, Sanders was asked by MSNBC's Thomas Roberts how "we balance what the federal government is capable of doing and what we should accept it to do, but not at the same time jeopardize our national security?"

SANDERS: Well, I think what we do is what we have historically done in this area and what we do everyday in law enforcement and that is if the NSA or other intelligence agencies or law enforcement agencies has reason to believe that somebody is involved in terrorist activities, they're going to go to this FISA court and say look, here is our evidence, and if the FISA court says, wow, you make sense, let's go and get that guy, let's go and get all of the intelligence and information they need. That is what they should be doing.

Thomas, that is a very different approach than saying we are going to file information on every single American. We're going to be getting into your email. We're going to be getting into the web sites that you visit, because it kind of makes us a safer country. Yeah, it does, but it doesn't make us a free country and as a nation we're going to have to have a real conversation about what freedom is about.

And to my mind freedom is not about the United States government, or by the way, corporate America, getting into everything that you do, every web site you go to, every email that you send. That's not freedom. That's not what the Constitution of the United States is about. The bottom line, yes, I believe we've got to be strong and vigorous in protecting the American people from the very serious threat of terrorism, but I think we can do that without undermining the Constitution of the United States.

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