Udall talks NSA reforms with Obama as president mulls changes

3:54 PM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Udall said Thursday he told President Barack Obama to end the National Security Agency's "invasive and constitutionally flawed" data-collection operations.

The Colorado Democrat and a few other members of Congress met with Obama to discuss intelligence reforms as the president considers retooling NSA procedures.

Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Obama didn't preview the changes he plans in response to the outcry sparked by former defense contractor Edward Snowden's revelations that the NSA collects phone and Internet records of millions of Americans as part of its terrorism-prevention campaign.

Udall and another Intelligence Committee member, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, have long warned that Americans would be upset if they found out what the NSA was up to. But they were legally barred from disclosing classified information, which Snowden did last year.

In a brief interview after the White House meeting, Udall said he's relieved that other lawmakers told the president it's time to end the data sweeps.

"I'm no longer a voice in the wilderness," he said. "NSA collection of all data should end."

Two federal courts have issued split rulings on the constitutionality of the NSA sweeps, increasing the chances that the Supreme Court will make the final call. Udall, Wyden and other critics have introduced legislation to end the data collection and make other changes, though those measures haven't advanced.

Meanwhile, the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has told the NSA it can continue gathering data.

Obama met this week with the panel he created last year to recommend reforms. The panel is expected to release a report later this month or in February. But Obama is expected to announce his reform proposals before that, perhaps as early as next week, White House aides said.

During "robust" discussions with congressional lawmakers on Thursday, Obama would only say that he's "deeply involved" in figuring out how to change the way the NSA does business, Udall said.

"The president held his cards close to his chest," he said. "But we're going to keep pushing."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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