Former Gov. Martin O’Malley said that recent reforms to the Patriot Act did not go far enough in curtailing the National Security Agency, arguing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court should include a public advocate.
“The USA Freedom act was a step in the right direction, and I’m glad that it passed and the president signed it,” said O’Malley, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president.
“I would like to see us go further in terms of a role for a public advocate in the FISA court,” he continued. “As a lawyer myself and by training, I think our national security and our rights would be better served if we had a bigger role for a public advocate in the FISA court.”
O’Malley’s remarks at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon marked the first time the two-term governor has laid out a notable policy position on mass surveillance since becoming a presidential candidate. He has thus far staked his candidacy on a progressive economic platform, including regulating Wall Street and pushing for immigration reform.
President Obama signed into law on Tuesday sweeping legislation that dissolves the NSA’s authority to monitor data on millions of Americans’ phone calls, instead requiring that phone companies store the data themselves. If the government wants to access call data, it has to first acquire a court order with FISA.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination, has made reforming surveillance a central platform of his presidency. But O’Malley differed with Paul on how to do that.
Over the weekend in New Hampshire, O’Malley said he opposed Paul’s move on Sunday to delay a vote on to extend the Patriot Act. Paul’s delay ultimately led to the NSA surveillance authorities lapsing for nearly two full days, but paved the way for the USA Freedom Act to pass on Tuesday. “I think we could be less safe if we resort to obstructionism when it comes to something as important as protecting our homeland from the threat of terror attacks,” he said, BuzzFeed news reported.