In Congress, liberal Democrats are working with conservative and libertarian-leaning Republicans to reform and rescind some of the legal authority the NSA claims to justify its data collection. The USA Freedom Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., appears poised to pass the House of Representatives and has significant support in the Senate. Congressional critics say the massive programs have detected very few terrorist plots.
"Secretly tracking millions of Americans raises urgent, serious legal questions – never apparently presented to any court," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, one of 18 Senate co-sponsors of Leahy's bill, in a Thursday statement. "The threat to privacy rights from these reported ongoing NSA practices must be resolved immediately by Congress and the courts. These reports are additional powerful evidence that the system needs to be reformed, which must include more transparency and accountability enforced by a constitutional advocate."