In order to do vigorous oversight, the leadership of the intelligence community has got to be straight with the American people and straight with the Congress. For there to be vigorous oversight, the intelligence community's got to be straight with the American people and the Congress and that has not been the case.
Since 1994, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have considered it politically risky to offer a plan to fix America's broken health care system. The American public, though, has paid the price for this silence as health care costs skyrocketed, millions went uninsured, and millions more grappled with financial insecurity and hardship.
In today's world, it is shortsighted to think that infectious diseases cannot cross borders. By allowing developing countries access to generic drugs, we not only help improve health in those nations, we also help ourselves control these debilitating and often deadly diseases.
Police departments no longer have to pay overtime or divert resources from other projects to find out where an individual goes - all they have to do is place a tracking device on someone's car or ask a cell phone company for that individual's location history and the technology does the work for them.
The government's collection authority, under the Patriot Act, is basically limitless. They can get the medical records and financial records, gun purchase records. And it also becomes part of another important issue that relates to the FISA court and the rest of the debate. It almost becomes a secret law, like there are two Patriot Acts. The one you read on the laptop essentially leads you to believe that there's some connection to terror .
Americans are free to choose everything from what they eat, drive and watch on TV to the President of the United States. Yet, when it comes to allowing Americans to choose the health insurance that works best for them and their family, the freedom to choose suddenly becomes un-American.
The combination of the growth of these digital technologies, the ability of the government to conjure up these secret interpretations, plus a very unusual and novel court make for this ever-expanding surveillance state. We so treasure our freedoms; we will regret it if our generation doesn't use this unique time to reform the surveillance laws and make it clear that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. We can do both.
Merging the ability to conduct surveillance that reveals every aspect of a person's life with the ability to conjure up the legal authority to execute that surveillance, and finally, removing any accountable judicial oversight, creates the opportunity for unprecedented influence over our system of government.
Part of what we're trying to do is lay out what really happened. For example, I've been trying to get across that the intelligence leadership did not just keep the country in the dark. They actively misled the country on key issues. When you have someone who heads the NSA saying we don't hold data at all on US citizens, that's one of the most misleading statements I believe that's ever been made about surveillance policy. And I think that now we're starting to get that message across.
You essentially have a human-relations database on millions of Americans. The administration said, "Well we're not listening to calls, we don't collect content." As [Vice President] Joe Biden said when he was a United States senator, you don't need to listen to those calls. If you have who somebody called, when and where, and you learned, for example, somebody called a psychiatrist three times in the last few days and twice after midnight, you know a lot about that person that they may not want people to know about them, especially the government.
I think if progressives stay at this, continue at the grassroots level to make the case that all Americans should have choice, all Americans ought to be able to hold insurance companies accountable, I think we will have 60 votes in the United States Senate for a strong bill.