By Jerry Zremski
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, announced today that he will push for major reforms to the National Security Agency spying programs that have prompted concerns about possible violations of civil liberties.
In his weekly conference call with reporters, Reed said he is teaming with Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., and other lawmakers on an effort to reform the NSA programs as the House tackles a bill reauthorizing U.S. intelligence programs.
"I think people are rightfully concerned" about the NSA programs, Reed said.
Two NSA programs have been the focus of controversy ever since leaker Edward Snowden revealed them earlier this summer. One involves the collection of the phone records of U.S. citizens in a search for patterns of contact with potential terrorists overseas; the other allows the agency to search emails without a warrant.
Reed stopped short of saying he opposed those programs. Instead, he said he will seek more transparency at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which must approve the NSA's intelligence-gathering requests.
In addition, Reed said he will seek a way for citizens to seek redress if they feel they have been inappropriately spied upon, and that he will seek a pathway for whistleblowers to pursue legitimate complaints about U.S. spying programs.
Just last month, Reed voted against an amendment that would have, in essence, ended the NSA's gathering of phone records, saying: "While the concern for proper oversight and transparency is a legitimate
one, a knee-jerk reaction that puts American lives in jeopardy is not
Today, though, Reed acknowledged that he had heard many concerns from constituents about the NSA programs -- which, he said, he has been looking at with an eye to reform for more than a year.
Reforming the programs through the intelligence reauthorization bill is the proper forum for any changes, said Reed, whose call for more transparency in the program echoes what President Obama said during his press conference last Friday.
"That bodes well, if the president is moving in the same direction," Reed said.