Oregon Senators Call For Declassification of Secret Information

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, June 12 2013 at 5:18 PM, Updated: Wed, June 12 2013 at 5:31 PM

This week Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with a bi-partisan group of other senators are speaking out. They're saying Oregonians and Americans deserve to know how much information about their private communication is allowable under the law.

Are you under surveillance by the government? Well the truth is, you might be.

It's come out that the National Security Agency or NSA has been tracking Americans' phone calls...noting phone numbers, and how long people talked. It's all in the name of preventing the next terrorist attack. While they don't hear conversations, the news has caused outrage.

"It's a violation of our rights," began Medford resident Dane MacArthur.

"We're not combatants from another country," said MacArthur.

"I'm not a terrorist, I live in America, i'm not making any bad phone calls. Why are you looking at me?" questioned Shannon Ilacqua, who is a Central Point resident.

In response, two Oregon lawmakers, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are leading the charge in Washington D.C. They introduced a bi-partisan bill along with six other senators aimed at declassifying "secret court" opinions that would help Americans know how much information about their private communications the government believes it's allowed to take under the law.

"We need those secret court opinions to figure this out," said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

After closed-door briefings, lawmakers are talking about whether to make public more details of the NSA's secret surveillance programs.

"I think it's important that there be public hearings, that there be an opportunity to get straight answers," Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said.

But not everyone is so heated about the government snooping.

"It hasn't really affected my privacy personally," said Rogue Valley resident Sheila Harrington.

She said she is okay with government surveillance since officials have said it helps curtail terrorism. 

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, questions still remain. How far is too far? And what does the public deserve to know?

While the bi-partisan bill is making headlines, it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to pass.

In fact other key democrats in Washington D.C. have reportedly called the bill "dead on arrival," unsure if the President will sign off on it if it got to his desk.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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