Daily Truth Pills

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…

This abuse of the Patriot Act must end

Posted by truthpills on 2013/06/12

Sunday 9 June 2013 07.00 EDT
This abuse of the Patriot Act must end

President Obama falsely claims Congress authorised all NSA surveillance. In fact, our law was designed to protect liberties

Jim Sensenbrenner

We’ve gotten used to what “Big Government” looks like – Washington’s unchecked deficit spending, the Obama administration’s policing of the press and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. But the problem is bigger than we thought. “Big Brother” is watching. And he is monitoring the phone calls and digital communications of every American, as well as of any foreigners who make or receive calls to or from the United States.

Last week, the Guardian reported that the Obama administration is collecting records of every call made to, from or within the US, as well as records of many digital communications. President Obama has tried to deflect criticism by claiming “every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.” While some members of Congress were briefed – particularly those on the intelligence committees – most, including myself, were not.

The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can. I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.

I was the chairman of the House judiciary committee when the US was attacked on 11 September 2001. Five days later, the Justice Department delivered its proposal for new legislation. Although I, along with every other American, knew we had to strengthen our ability to combat those targeting our country, this version went too far. I believed then and now that we can defend our country and our liberty at the same time.

I immediately called then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert and asked him for time to redraft the legislation. I told the speaker that if the legislation moved forward as drafted, I would not only vote against it, but would actively oppose it.

The country wanted action, and the pressure from the White House was intense. To his credit, Speaker Hastert gave us more time. There were endless meetings and non-stop negotiations with the White House, the FBI and the intelligence community. The question could not have been more fundamental: how could we defend our liberty and protect the American people at the same time?

The legislation had to be narrowly tailored – everyone agreed that we could not allow unrestrained surveillance. The Patriot Act had 17 provisions. To prevent abuse, I insisted on sunsetting all the provisions so that they would automatically expire if Congress did not renew them. This would allow Congress to conduct oversight of the administration’s implementation of the act.
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