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Patriot Act Author Introducing Anti-NSA Spying Legislation Tuesday: Report

By on October 28, 2013

by Ali Papademetriou

Wisconsin Representative and former Patriot Act author, James Sensenbrenner, has proven to be a fervent advocate for preserving US citizens’ civil liberties and against unconstitutional government surveillance.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief on behalf of Sensenbrenner, arguing that the NSA’s surveillance is completely unauthorized and out of control.

The EFF defended that Sensenbrenner has been maintaining that the Patriot Act was not supposed to allow Congress “to permit the NSA’s collection of the records of every telephone call made to, from and within the United States.”

I stand by the Patriot Act and support the specific targeting of terrorists by our government, but the proper balance has not been stuck between civil rights and American security,” the Representative said in a statement to the EFF. “A large, intrusive government – however benevolent it claims to be – is not immune from the simple truth that centralized power threatens liberty.”

He concluded by detailing, “Americans are increasingly wary that Washington is violating the privacy rights guaranteed to us by the Fourth Amendment.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Sensenbrenner was planning on taking one step further. The Patriot Act author said he’d be proposing legislation to limit the NSA’s out-of-control surveillance of American citizens in the House. The Guardian reported weeks ago that he’d be naming his legislation the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-Collection, and Online Monitoring Act – or US Freedom Act.

According to a report by Breitbart.com, the bill already has more than 50 co-sponsors, some of whom also voted against the Amash amendment – a bill that failed to pass, which was introduced by “Ron Paul Republican” Representative Justin Amash this past summer with efforts of limiting NSA surveillance.

The US Freedom Act reportedly only needs seven members to successfully pass, so at this rate, its likelihood for passage is very high.

Sensenbrenner is planning on introducing his bill this Tuesday.

Several Members have told the media that if they knew now what they knew then, specifically NSA audit documents that seemed to contradict what they were being told, then they would have voted for the Amash Amendment,” reported Breitbart.com. “It’s worth noting that 13 members who voted to stop the PATRIOT Act two years ago voted against the Amash Amendment back in July.”

According to a letter being handed around to the Members, Sensenbrenner’s bill is being portrayed as a vehicle “to rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.”

Addressing Section 215 and stopping the massive snooping of American communications, reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, increasing transparency, and addressing “National Security Letters” are among the key provisions noted in the bill’s drafted version.

Sensenbrenner’s legislation is also anticipating a matched proposal from Senate Judiciary committee chair Patrick Leahy, which reportedly “pulls together existing congressional efforts to reform the National Security Agency in the wake of disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden.”

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