Author Of The Patriot Act Says NSA Surveillance Is An Abuse And Must End

from the about-time dept

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who was the chair of the House Judiciary Committee when it put forth the Patriot Act, and someone who's not known for being afraid to support expanded surveillance, has now come out strongly against the NSA's surveillance efforts, saying that they must end. He claims that he pushed back against the suggestions of the federal government when the Patriot Act was first proposed, to make sure that it wouldn't take away our liberty. But he's concerned about what's become of the law that he brought forth. He insists that the law was never intended to approve the kind of spying and data collection done by the NSA, and the President's belief that these efforts were authorized by Congress is false:
In his press conference on Friday, President Obama described the massive collection of phone and digital records as "two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress". But Congress has never specifically authorized these programs, and the Patriot Act was never intended to allow the daily spying the Obama administration is conducting.

To obtain a business records order like the one the administration obtained, the Patriot Act requires the government to prove to a special federal court, known as a Fisa court, that it is complying with specific guidelines set by the attorney general and that the information sought is relevant to an authorized investigation. Intentionally targeting US citizens is prohibited.

Technically, the administration's actions were lawful insofar as they were done pursuant to an order from the Fisa court. But based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the Fisa court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended.
Of course, what's really, really frustrating about this is that most of the members of Congress only have themselves to blame for not knowing what's going on. Many did know, and Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall repeatedly asked the other members of Congress to ask these questions and to learn more about how the NSA was using a "secret" interpretation to do much more surveillance than the public and many in Congress believed the law allowed. The fact that all of those Representatives and Senators ignored them until now is incredibly frustrating.

It's great that Sensenbrenner is speaking out strongly now. I just wish he'd done it years ago when the issue was first raised.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2013 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    the stupidity is that all those in Congress should know exactly what will happen with any and all bills. ie, they will be abused, they will be twisted they will be used in the ways those using them want them to be used.

    Indeed. It is the Murphy's Law of Legislation: Anything that can be abused will be abused.

    Corollary: Everything can be abused.

    With that in mind, the responsible legislator will craft his or her laws to minimize the damage caused by abuse.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.