House Committee To Hold Privacy Hearings

By The Office of U.S. Representat... | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

Barr Obtains Commitment from Government Reform

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Representative Bob Barr (GA-7) announced Monday House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) has agreed to hold hearings this fall on government surveillance programs, such as the National Security Agency's reported "Project Echelon." On several occasions, Barr has expressed concerns that both foreign and domestic surveillance operations may be violating the privacy rights of American citizens.

Earlier this year, Barr successfully amended the FY 2000 Foreign Intelligence Authorization Act to require the Department of Justice, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency to submit to Congress a report detailing the legal standards the agencies use when they eavesdrop on American citizens. A similar amendment has also been passed by the United States Senate.

Barr's concerns were prompted by news reports indicating a system known as Project Echelon is conducting massive interception of the private phone calls, e-mails, faxes and data transmissions of American citizens.

"As advances make information much easier to acquire, store, and search, we must make absolutely certain our legal structure develops in tandem with our technological infrastructure. More importantly, Congress must remain vigilant in ensuring government agencies adhere to existing laws governing surveillance activities. These hearings will help reassure the American public this is a responsibility Congress takes seriously," said Barr.

Barr, a former United States Attorney, serves on the House Banking, Government Reform, and Judiciary Committees.