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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today concerning news reports that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of American households and businesses:
“The sheer magnitude and scope of the NSA’s secret program to collect the telephone records of millions of Americans demands real, effective Congressional oversight – oversight that too often in this Congress has been lacking or virtually non-existent.
“The highest duty of the President of the United States and Members of Congress is to defend our nation and protect our people. And, consistent with that duty, we must continue to vigorously pursue and disrupt terrorists and terrorist organizations. Our actions must be consistent with our laws, as well as our values and our respect for civil liberties. No one – not even the President – has unfettered power in the American system of government, which was carefully constructed by our founders to provide checks and balances.
“Recent revelations about the NSA’s secret collection of telephone records of innocent citizens ought to concern all Americans. The Republican-controlled Congress must work with Democrats to conduct real, effective oversight to mitigate such concerns, and ensure that our actions indeed do comport with our laws and values.
"I believe we can effectively protect our citizens from those who attempt or conspire to commit terrorist acts consistent with the law and our Constitution - and we must do both."