Recent Press Releases
WASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement in response to the President's remarks on the U. S. government’s intelligence collection activities.
"Long before the current controversy about government intelligence programs, in 2004 former Senator Joseph Lieberman and I authored the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to make sure an independent oversight body existed to examine the protection of civil liberties in the conduct of counterterrorism efforts. We did so despite the strong opposition of President Bush’s Administration, particularly Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I have supported strengthening the role of the PCLOB in reviewing the Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism programs.
“I also have supported reforms to improve transparency, accountability, and oversight of the NSA’s activities while also preserving the effectiveness of our counterterrorism efforts. Similar in some respects to one of the reforms the President proposed today, I have voted for legislative reforms to ensure that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has access to analysis about the privacy implications of its orders through consultation with outside experts on privacy and civil liberties.
“The President correctly described the intelligence gap identified after 9/11/01 that led to the strengthening of our collection programs. Indeed, Michael Morrell, a member of the President's independent review group, and Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, have testified that the 9/11 attacks would likely have been prevented if the counterterrorism programs under discussion today had been in existence in 2001. As we increase transparency and erect further barriers to intelligence collection, we must be careful that we do not put our country at greater risk of attack. Notably, the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies reported it “found no evidence of illegality or other abuse of authority for the purpose of targeting domestic political activity” and recommended the continuation of the metadata telephone collection program with reforms.
"The President’s decision that the metadata collection should continue but that the data should not be held by the government requires considerable scrutiny. Having the telephone companies or other non-governmental entities responsible for holding this information might well make it far less private and secure than it is currently.
"I also remain deeply concerned that we are at much greater risk of failing to connect the dots to detect and disrupt future plots as a result of Edward Snowden's disclosures because our adversaries now can easily access public information about our capabilities and are likely changing their tactics to conceal their plots to kill Americans. It is disappointing that the President failed to emphasize the degree to which Snowden has revealed some of the most sensitive information essential to the protection of the American people and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who defend us. Snowden may have walked off with more than a million secret documents that have nothing to do with telephone records, and yet the President devoted just a few sentences to the enormous damage caused by Snowden when he violated his oath to protect classified information. Repairing this damage and eliminating the likelihood that someone else could steal other classified information also require urgent reforms.
"These are difficult issues as the President stated. As further reforms to intelligence collection are debated in Congress, I will carefully consider the perspective of the President, the testimony of senior intelligence professionals before the Intelligence Committee, the recommendations of the President's Independent Review Group, the advice of experts, and the valuable insights of the many Mainers."