In light of a federal judge's ruling that the National Security Agency's collection of Americans' phone records likely violates the Constitution (and might not be making us any safer), Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper is staying in the luke warm end of the pool
"I am open to modifying and improving NSA programs in order to protect America and our privacy," he tells the Scene this week. "The President's commission seems to be making some sensible recommendations for reform, if the leaks are accurate. What one lower-level federal judge thinks is interesting, but it will take a long time to see if his ruling survives the appeal process."
The commission's recommendations have since been released, and they include significant changes to the NSA's activity's and the government's approach to intelligence gathering in general.
But if you think Cooper's statement in response to a judge labeling the government's surveillance activities "almost-Orwellian" was weak, you'll love what we got from Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. Both offices tell us that the senators are still "examining" and "reviewing" the ruling.
Perhaps we should have asked for their thoughts on Duck Dynasty?
Alexander's office referred us to a statement the senator made when the NSA's activities were first revealed.
"Several years ago, Congress, in full public view, authorized the National Security Administration to collect information about certain phone calls and Internet activity in order to protect our country from terrorism. The question now is whether the Obama administration has exceeded that authority. The Intelligence and Judiciary committees should diligently examine whether the appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the civil liberties of Americans."
A federal judge and a panel convened by the president himself say the appropriate safeguards are not in place. When the senators finish reviewing, examining and mulling over those facts, we'll let you know what they say.