Feb. 5, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Hill Debate on Domestic Wiretapping Reignited

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a member of the Intelligence Committee and a leading supporter of privacy rights, called for swift action to roll back provisions of federal wiretapping laws and called on the Obama administration to declassify documents detailing how the laws have been implemented.

“Congress must get to work fixing these laws that have eroded the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding citizens. In addition, the administration should declassify certain aspects of how these authorities have been used so that the American people can better understand their scope and impact,” Feingold said.

By day’s end, the calls for investigations into the allegations were mounting, particularly among Democrats.

“These are very troubling allegations that need to be reviewed,” said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who helped broker last year’s bipartisan deal on electronic spying legislation, said he is “deeply concerned” to learn of the NSA compliance failures.

“I understand that relevant Congressional committees were notified and have been conducting vigorous oversight on wrongdoings. I intend to look into this personally and ensure that all appropriate actions are being taken,” Hoyer said.

He was one of at least 56 current and former lawmakers who visited the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 when the effort to wiretap the unknown Member reportedly took place, according to OpenSecrets.org’s preliminary review of records related to privately funded travel

The current and former Members of the House who took privately funded trips to the Middle East during that time include: Hoyer, Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), John Salazar (D-Colo.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Paul Ryan (D-Wis.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Mike Michaud (D-Maine), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), John Carter (R-Texas), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), John Kuhl (R-N.Y.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), John Doolittle (R-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.).

Current and former Senators to visit the region during 2005 and 2006 include Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Texas), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

While the bulk of those Members traveled to Israel, several, including Blumenauer, Bennett, Baldwin, Stevens and Meeks, made visits to Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and other countries.

Additionally, a handful of lawmakers made visits to countries considered to be hostile to the U.S., including a trip to Syria by Kucinich in 2006. Several also visited the Gaza Strip and other territories currently occupied by Israel.

Steven T. Dennis and Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.

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