POLITICS: PennAve

Ron Wyden: Ban all dragnet surveillance of Americans

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Democratic senator Ron Wyden welcomed President Obama's proposed reforms to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs Sunday, but said that further steps were needed to curb spying on Americans.

"I believe strongly we ought to ban all dragnet surveillance on law-abiding Americans, not just phone records but also medical records, purchases and others," said Wyden, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence who has been a consistent critic of the NSA's surveillance programs.

In an appearance on NBC on Sunday morning, the Oregon Democrat welcomed Obama's proposal, offered earlier in the week, to limit the NSA's access to phone companies' bulk records. That program was secret before the leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Obama's offered reform, however, doesn't go far enough, said Wyden.

The president "ought to make the transition right away to ending bulk phone records" collection, said Wyden, criticizing the president's decision to renew the bulk collection program for another 90 days while advocating reform.

"What the government has been doing is running a federal human relations database. When the government has the information about who you call, when you call, they know a lot about your private life," said Wyden.

Wyden declined to say whether or not he considered Snowden a criminal for revealing the NSA's secrets. But he did predict further leaks in the absence of reform.

"The American people deserve straight information from the intelligence leadership," he said, warning that "if the American people don't get it, you can bet there will be other situations like this."

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