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New Mexico Telegram » Delegation, Featured, National News » Heinrich signs amicus brief in court challenge to NSA

Heinrich signs amicus brief in court challenge to NSA

Heinrich at a campaign event in 2008.

Heinrich at a campaign event in 2008.

Sen. Martin Heinrich announced that he joined two other U.S. Senators in singing an amicus brief in a challenge against the gathering of phone numbers by the NSA.

Heinrich joined prominent critics of NSA surveillance Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in signing onto the challenge.

All three sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The amicus brief is in the First Unitarian Church vs. National Security Agency U.S. District Court case. The brief argues that the NSA’s tactics are not necessary.

“As members of the committee charged with overseeing the National Security Agency’s surveillance, Amici have reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of value that could not have been gathered through less intrusive means,” the brief states.

The brief also says the effectiveness of the program is “vastly overstated and, in some cases, utterly misleading” by the executive branch.

“Collecting the daily telephone activity of millions of innocent Americans is a major intrusion to our privacy rights that does little if anything to further the fight against terrorism,” Heinrich said. “As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I am more familiar than most with this program, and know what is and isn’t true about this program. To the extent I can do so without violating my national security obligations, I will do what I can to keep the government honest about what it tells others, including our courts, about this program.”

Udall, the cousin of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said, “The dragnet collection of millions of innocent Americans’ private phone records is a clear threat to our constitutional rights, yet we have seen no evidence that this exceedingly intrusive monitoring has provided any uniquely valuable intelligence.”

“After spending many years reviewing the bulk phone records collection program I have yet to see any examples of it providing real intelligence value that could not be have been gained by more constitutionally sound means,” Wyden said.

Heinrich has staked a claim on the side against surveillance in his time in Washington. Earlier this month he voted against a proposed fix to FISA, saying it did not go far enough to curb what he sees as abuses.

Heinrich did speak about opposing provisions of FISA before his initial run for Congress, although he voted for the reauthorization of FISA.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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