Soon To Be Proposed USA FREEDOM Act Could Rein In Abuses Of The Patriot Act

Posted By on October 25, 2013

Off to Washington D.C. goes another letter to our Congressman…..

YES, we’re in favor of changing the often abused Patriot Act.  This movement already has more than 50 co-sponsors. There is also a bipartisan coalition called’ StopWatching US’, that includes Congressman Amash, and the coalition includes hundreds of organizations from all sides of the political spectrum. The petition on reining in NSA surveillance has received more than 575,000 signatures so far….and they can add one more from

Breitbart News has learned that Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will introduce major legislation to rein in NSA surveillance activities of American citizens on Tuesday. 

The United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act, or USA FREEDOM Act, is somewhat of a step beyond the controversial “Amash Amendment” that narrowly failed to pass the House in July that would have stripped funding for NSA programs collecting the telephone records of those in the United States.

Sensenbrenner is the former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and current Chairman of the subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He was also the original sponsor of the PATRIOT Act. The Wisconsin lawmaker has previously stated that the PATRIOT Act was “deliberately drafted to prevent [the] data mining” yet the NSA interpreted his legislation to justify their dragnet style surveillance of American citizens. His support, as the drafter of the PATRIOT Act, could be influential with a few of his national security oriented Republican colleagues.

The Guardian has seen a draft of the bill. Here are the key points:

• Ending bulk metadata collection. Section 215 of the Patriot Act would be tightened to place more onus on intelligence agencies to show they are looking for specific suspects and do not inadvertently sweep up information on innocent Americans. They would have to show a Fisa court judge that the target was thought to be an agent of a foreign power, was engaged in activity that was the subject of an investigation, or was an individual in contact with an agent of foreign power.

• Disclosure. The attorney general would be required to publicly disclose decisions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law, but may continue to classify confidential parts. Specific information on individuals would not be disclosed, but the policy changes would be. The intent is that the bill would end “secret laws” being made behind closed doors by the Fisa courts and the intelligence community.

• Greater transparency. Internet and telephone companies that received Fisa court orders would be allowed to report the number of Fisa orders and national security letters complied with, and number of users on whom information was demanded.

• Privacy advocate. The bill creates an office of special advocate within the Fisa court who would have standing to appear to represent the public and privacy concerns. They would be chosen from a list recommended by Obama’s privacy and civil liberties oversight board but a Fisa court judge would appoint from that list. This judicial appointment would have the power to appeal Fisa court decisions.

• Foreign loopholes. The bill amends section 702 (b) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent intelligence agencies from “reverse targeting” that may allow them to intercept email and internet communications of Americans. It also calls on the US inspector general to investigate whether current minimization procedures adequately protect the constitutional rights of US persons and gives more legal powers to the privacy and civil liberties oversight board.

• Other loopholes. Title 4 of Fisa, known as the pen register and trap-and-trace provisions, would be amended to make sure the government does not just rebuild its metadata dragnet using different authorities.

Sources: Wise Dog Research, The Guardian, Wikipedia, Breitbart News

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