Patriot Act Author: Only My Anti-NSA Bill Will Close ‘Loophole’ Spying on Americans

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., will introduce the USA Freedom Act, designed to curb NSA surveillance, next week.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
April 2, 2014, 1:34 p.m.

The one-time cham­pi­on of grant­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­munity more sur­veil­lance au­thor­ity is re­doub­ling ef­forts to pass his spy­ing re­form bill amid rev­el­a­tions the NSA in­ten­tion­ally spied on Amer­ic­ans through a law meant to ap­ply only to for­eign­ers.

Rep. Jim Sensen­bren­ner on Wed­nes­day said his Free­dom Act would close a “loop­hole” a seni­or in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial re­cently ad­mit­ted the NSA has ex­ploited to spy on the ac­tu­al con­tents — and not just “metadata” — of Amer­ic­ans’ com­mu­nic­a­tions without a war­rant. 

“We now know Sec­tion 702 of [the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act] has been im­prop­erly used to ob­tain the con­tent of Amer­ic­ans’ private com­mu­nic­a­tions without a war­rant, which is un­con­sti­tu­tion­al un­der the Fourth Amend­ment and a blatant vi­ol­a­tion of Amer­ic­ans’ civil liber­ties,” the Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an said in a state­ment. “The USA Free­dom Act ends bulk col­lec­tion, closes the loop­hole be­ing ex­ploited to ac­cess the com­mu­nic­a­tions of Amer­ic­ans, and strikes the prop­er bal­ance between pri­vacy and se­cur­ity.”

Sec­tion 702 grants the NSA broad au­thor­ity to listen to phone calls and ac­cess emails, but is only meant to cov­er non-U.S. per­sons loc­ated out­side of the coun­try. While the agency some­times in­cid­ent­ally col­lects U.S. data dur­ing its sweep­ing col­lec­tion, Dir­ect­or of Na­tion­al In­tel­li­gence James Clap­per re­vealed this week in a let­ter to Sen. Ron Wyden that the agency has searched its data­base at times to spe­cific­ally look for Amer­ic­ans’ com­mu­nic­a­tions.

Sensen­bren­ner, who au­thored the post-9/11 Pat­ri­ot Act from which the gov­ern­ment jus­ti­fies much of its mass-sur­veil­lance au­thor­ity, be­came a born-again cru­sader against bulk data col­lec­tion last year fol­low­ing the ini­tial dis­clos­ures by Ed­ward Snowden. His Free­dom Act was in­tro­duced last fall and has ac­crued more than 140 co­spon­sors, though it has seen little mo­mentum re­cently. Sen. Patrick Leahy is spon­sor­ing mir­ror le­gis­la­tion.

Sensen­bren­ner also took a swipe at a bill in­tro­duced last month by Reps. Mike Ro­gers and Dutch Rup­pers­ber­ger, say­ing it lacked teeth and, un­like his bill, “does not” close the 702 loop­hole.

The Free­dom Act awaits judg­ment in the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, where Sensen­bren­ner, a former chair­man, cur­rently serves. The bill from Ro­gers and Rup­pers­ber­ger, however, was re­ferred to the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, which the fre­quent NSA de­fend­ers lead, prompt­ing some mem­bers of Ju­di­ciary to claim they were be­ing in­ten­tion­ally cut out of the de­bate on how to best re­form the NSA.

Sev­er­al pri­vacy and civil-liber­ties groups have in­sisted that Sensen­bren­ner’s bill is the only le­gis­la­tion that will suf­fi­ciently re­form gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance.

What We're Following See More »
OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS
Trump To Sign Order Calling For Expanded Drilling
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is expected Monday to sign an executive order which will mark his administration's first action on offshore oil and gas drilling. The order is expected to call for a "review of the locations available for offshore oil and gas exploration and of certain regulations governing offshore oil and gas exploration."

Source:
DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
Pence Cuts Asia Trip Short For Big Week
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Vice President Mike Pence has cut his Asia trip short "to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday." Pence will return to Washington on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Trump has a busy week ahead, as he plans to roll out a tax reform on framework, sign a number of executive orders, and works to keep the government open past Friday.

Source:
24% GOOD ENOUGH FOR FIRST PLACE
Macron, Le Pen Lead French Elections
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen led the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, according to early projections, as voters redrew the political map, placing the European Union at the center of a new political divide. Projections by the Kantar-Sofres polling firm showed Mr. Macron on track to win the first round with about 24% of the vote, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with nearly 22%." The vote marks the end of the country's dominance by conservative and socialist parties. The top vote-getters head to a runoff on May 7.

Source:
MENDING FENCES?
Trump to Deliver Keynote for Holocaust Memorial Event
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump will deliver the keynote address for at the National Holocaust Museum's National Day of Remembrance ceremony on Tuesday. He'll speak from the Capitol Rotunda. The move is likely an effort to try to mend fences with Jewish groups. In January, "the White House ignited controversy when it didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day." And certain members of his inner circle are still suspected of harboring white supremacist or anti-Semitic views."

Source:
MAY NOT SIGN BUDGET BILL WITHOUT IT
Trump Issues Threat on Border Wall Funding
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week. In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login