Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com & Burgess Everett / Politico – 2013-06-25 00:47:25
Sen. Leahy’s Bill Would Sunset Surveillance Programs in 2015
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D â€“ VT) is introducing a new bill aimed at reforming certain portions of the Patriot Act and the most recent FISA Amendments Act, sunsetting the massive digital surveillance authorization in the summer of 2015, meaning there could be an actual debate on the matter then.
Leahy’s bill would also alter the Patriot Act in a significant way by requiring the government to actual prove that any data scooped up under its provisions is actually relevant to a real investigation, and linked to a foreign target.
The most recent FISA act set surveillance authorization until the end of 2017, and most of the Senate leadership seems reluctant to reconsider that, but Leahy’s role as a committee chairman will ensure that the measure gets at least some consideration.
Leahy argues that June 2015 makes the most sense because there are other surveillance provisions set to expire then too, and Congress can debate them all in the context of one another at the same time. Of course, most of Congress seems to support the idea of a huge surveillance state, so stopping them even in 2015 is an uphill battle.
Senators Float New Surveillance Bill
Burgess Everett / Politico
WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the most sweeping bill yet dealing with the fallout over revelations of NSA surveillance of phone records and Internet usage.
The legislation is notable for its comprehensiveness and because of the author: Leahy is sure to give the measure some time in his committee room, be it for a hearing or a markup. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said any legislation reacting to the National Security Agency programs must go through the regular committee process.
The Vermont senator’s 72-page bill takes pieces of disparate proposals from other senators who have long sought to raise red flags over the breadth of government reach stemming from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act, drawing cosponsorships from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Lee said the bill “will narrow surveillance authorities where appropriate and help provide the necessary accountability to ensure that Americans’ constitutional rights are respected.”
The bill would cut short the FISA Amendments Act passed just last year that extended the ability of the government to collect records of phone and digital communications through December 2017. Leahy’s bill would change the sunset date to June 2015.
If the government wanted to sweep up communications records, the bill would require the feds to show the record search as relevant to an authorized investigation and also a link to a “foreign agent, power, or group.” It would also require more specificity for roving wiretap requests that can tap the lines of any telephone a targeted suspect uses.
The bill would also require a report be made public on government surveillance’s effect on Americans’ privacy and demand audits of the Patriot Act.
Leahy previously pushed many of the same proposals last year that ultimately the Senate rejected. But that was before The Guardian and the Washington Post published classified documents exposing the broad reach of the NSA’s intelligence-gathering.
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