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Lawmaker introduces bill to repeal Fourth Amendment violations of the unconstitutional Patriot Act


Government surveillance

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(NaturalNews) A pair of lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan measure that would end the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance that has been at the heart of Fourth Amendment privacy concerns for years.

The Surveillance State Repeal Act, by Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, and Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, would repeal the controversial USA Patriot Act as well as the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, both of which conveyed authority upon the NSA to track suspects overseas and in the United States, in the name of fighting "terrorism." Prior to these two laws, the NSA's spy mandate was strictly foreign-based.

"The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state," Massie said in a press release. "Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans."

Pocan noted:

The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy. Revelations about the NSA's programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans' privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA's dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.

Not reform, repeal

In particular, the measure would completely repeal the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which the nation's premier spy agency has cited as giving it the authority to mass-intercept cell phone and other wireless communication data of Americans.

The bill also repeals the FISA Amendments Act, which originally amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to permit the collection of email data, while also overhauling NSA's domestic surveillance programs.

Finally, the bill makes retaliation against federal whistleblowers (like former NSA contractor Edward Snowden) illegal while ensuring any FISA collection against an American citizen occurs only upon issuance of a valid warrant based on probable cause.

The Surveillance State Repeal Act was first introduced in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) by Rep. Rush Holt, D-New Jersey, one of the most vocal, longstanding critics of the surveillance state. In an Aug. 2, 2013 interview with The Washington Post, Holt explained the difference between the measure he introduced and earlier attempts to reform the NSA.

"This isn't reform. This is repeal. I voted against both of those [the Patriot Act and the FAA] before. And actually against Patriot before multiple times," he said. "Those bills were misguided in their specifics, and now seeing what various agencies have done to stretch the language of those bills to cover things that were never intended to be covered makes clear that they've got to go. Even Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) [the author of the Patriot Act] has said it was never intended to be used that way."

Too time-consuming to get a warrant

As noted by conservative activist organization FreedomWorks, which supports the repeal effort, public opinion has consistently been against widespread NSA spying, even when done in the name of national security.

But prior reform bills, few as they've been, would have done next to nothing to end warrantless domestic surveillance. FreedomWorks noted that most of those measures contained escape clauses -- loopholes that would have permitted the invasive practice to continue.

The NSA's warrantless surveillance was first reported in December 2005. Then, The New York Times said the spying was authorized by a secret Executive Order issued by President Bush in 2002.

At the time, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden defended the administration's spying, noting that "the speed and the agility" of terrorists made getting warrants from the secret FISA Court too time-consuming.

Sources:

http://www.freedomworks.org

http://www.washingtonpost.com

https://www.govtrack.us

http://pocan.house.gov

https://www.eff.org

http://www.nytimes.com

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com

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