Bill Introduced to Reform Patriot Act

On December 31, three provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to sunset. This week, Reps. Jerome Nadler and Jeff Flake introduced reform legislation to curb the excesses of the provision affecting national security letters.

NSLs are secret subpoenas used to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval.

The ACLU has released a report, Reclaiming Patriotism. On National security letters, it writes: [More...]

The FBI uses NSLs to compel internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons. Using this data, the government can compile vast dossiers about innocent people. Government reports confirm that upwards of 50,000 of these secret record demands go out each year. In response to an ACLU lawsuit (Doe v. Holder), the Second Circuit Court of Appeal struck down as unconstitutional the part of the NSL law that gives the FBI the power to prohibit NSL recipients from telling anyone that the government has secretly requested customer Internet records.

The other provisions the ACLU complains of:

  • Material Support Statute. This provision criminalizes providing "material support" to terrorists, defined as providing any tangible or intangible good, service or advice to a terrorist or designated group. As amended by the Patriot Act and other laws since September 11, this section criminalizes a wide array of activities, regardless of whether they actually or intentionally further terrorist goals or organizations. Federal courts have struck portions of the statute as unconstitutional and a number of cases have been dismissed or ended in mistrial.
  • FISA Amendments Act of 2008. This past summer, Congress passed a law to permit the government to conduct warrantless and suspicion-less dragnet collection of U.S. residents' international telephone calls and e-mails. This too must be amended to provide meaningful privacy protections and judicial oversight of the government's intrusive surveillance power.
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    You don't surgically remove the saliva glands (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 09:38:28 AM EST
    of rabid dogs in hopes you can cure them; you put them down. This damn' thing is an obscenity that has no place in a democratic republic. It needs to go, all of it.

    absofrickenlutely! (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 05:56:26 PM EST
    This damn' thing is an obscenity that has no place in a democratic republic. It needs to go, all of it.

    it's a disgrace to those who brought this country into being. the entire act should be tossed on the bonfire or, probably more appropriately, tossed, with the other garbage brought to us by the bush administration, into the dustbin of bad history.


    FISA (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 10:32:07 AM EST
    A month ago, Senator Feingold told me he'd be giving the Administration "a few weeks" to come up with revisions before introducing legislation himself.

    I remember your comment on that (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 11:24:49 AM EST
    and am counting the weeks, too, and hoping that we still can count on Feingold, anyway . . . as I guess we have to give up on Obama's promise to make fixing FISA one of the first things that he would do.  He must have forgotten, but I cannot forget that grin on his face after he flipflopped.

    Let's see how Feingold acts about this bill, now that he's done doing photo ops with Ryan about their bill.  Ugh, bipartisanship makes for some odd couples.


    This is good (none / 0) (#3)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 10:59:48 AM EST
    because we need at least a semblance of protection of individual rights to weather what is likely in store for us in the near future.  When the U.S. economy completely collapses, the Masters of the Universe will own the government and the military, which will extend their claws even into the local and state police.  They'll be protected while the rest of us struggle for food and survival.  If we're lucky, we'll still be able to communicate over the Internet.  Our best chances of surviving a catastrophic economic collapse is to support the foundations our country was built on, and try to keep decision making distributed in communities across the country.