Back in May, Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall revealed that the federal government apparently was interpreting
the Patriot Act in a way that seemed at odds with the plain language of the act. Of course, Wyden and Udall couldn't reveal what they meant directly, since they only knew about it from their work on the Senate Intelligence Committee... but they sure could hint at it. It didn't take long for people to suggest that the issue had to do with how the feds interpreted their ability to get phone geolocation data on pretty much everyone without a warrant. That still hasn't been confirmed, but the Senators are hinting very strongly that that's exactly what's happening
. They've sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, which asks, point blank:
Do government agencies have the authority to collect the geolocation information of American citizens for intelligence purposes?
If yes, please explain the specific statutory basis for this authority. And to the extent that this statutory basis imposes any procedural requirements, such as judicial review or approval by particular officials, please describe these requirements.
If no, please explain the statutory basis for this prohibition.
It's not too difficult to read between the lines here. If the government has reinterpreted the Patrtiot Act to allow such tracking, shouldn't it say so?