Tag Archives: Ron Wyden

IVN: 5 Politicians Taking A Stand Against More Surveillance After Paris

By Carl Wicklander  Since the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, various mainstream news outlets have noted that the politics of surveillance have shifted. A shift would indicate that instead of rolling back surveillance policies in favor of more privacy, more invasive policies could be enacted.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio used the attacks to accuse fellow Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul of forcing a “weakening of our intelligence-gathering capabilities” that ultimately “leaves America vulnerable.” Yet despite this shift, there are still at least 5 politicians who remain consistent about surveillance after Paris.

1. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03)

On Twitter, Amash, a noted critic of surveillance policies, wrote of Rubio’s support for a bill to extend the bulk collection of metadata that was a key provision of the Patriot Act:

.just cosponsored bill to extend unconstitutional spying on all Americans. He’d fit right in with GOP of past.

2. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04)

The Kentucky representative told ABC News over Thanksgiving weekend how the immediate aftermath of a tragedy is the time when the government tries to capitalize on citizens’ fears to expand its power:

“Within six weeks of 9/11 they passed the Patriot Act. And it’s only natural they would try to do the same thing this time.”

3. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

Calling the argument that the Paris attacks required more surveillance “bullshit,” Sen. Paul also noted that surveillance policies of the past and present did not stop the Paris attacks:

“They are collecting your phone records as we speak, they did not miss a beat, even though we voted on reform, all your phone records are being collected and stored in Utah. Did it stop the attack in Paris? No.”

4. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

One of the candidates attacked by Rubio for opposing Patriot Act bulk collections, Cruz responded that his rival:

“…is trying to respond to the criticism that he has received that he is not willing to protect the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Separately, Cruz posted one of his endorsements on Twitter which noted his role in passing the USA Freedom Act:

“[Cruz] will use every tool we have to win, but he will never betray the very Constitution we are sworn to defend.”

Even before its passage, there was fierce debate about how much privacy the Freedom Act provided Americans, but Cruz’s positions have indicated that more surveillance is not the answer.

5. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)

The Oregon Democrat has long been a critic of Washington’s surveillance policies. Echoing some of the sentiments of Paul and Massie, Wyden explained that broadly-defined powers are not even effective, which was also the case in France where an aggressive surveillance law was passed following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January:

“While some people seem eager to seize on this crisis to resurrect failed policies of the past, the facts show mass surveillance doesn’t protect us from terrorist attacks.”



Republished with permission by IVN.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell Pushes for Two-Month PATRIOT Act Extension

In the past, long term re-authorizations of the USA PATRIOT Act have sailed through the Senate without controversy, but recent events have set up en epic battle between privacy advocates and national security hawks. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ cell phone records, authorized under the PATRIOT Act, is illegal. However, judges on the court stopped short of issuing an injunction that would terminate the program since its authorization expires on June 1.

Meanwhile, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are threatening to filibuster the renewal of PATRIOT Act section 215, which authorizes the NSA’s unpopular domestic cell phone spying program. The USA FREEDOM Act, which has been promoted by supporters as an effort to end the bulk phone records collection program, just passed the House of Representatives. However, congressional privacy advocates have said that the bill does not so much end the NSA program but instead outsources the job to private corporations by requiring them to, according to Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), “hold, search, and analyze certain data at the request of the government.”

Now, National Journal is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a fast-track extension of the PATRIOT Act that would only re-authorize domestic spying through July 31. National Journal‘s Dustin Volz wrote, “By introducing a short-term clean re-authorization in addition to the House-passed reform measure known as the USA Freedom Act, McConnell may be seeking to forge some sort of compromise between the two measures. The Kentucky Republican and a group of GOP defense hawks have made a forceful case over the past month that reforms to the NSA’s surveillance operations could make Americans more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.”

Congressman Amash advanced his own theory on Twitter as to what McConnell intends to do and said, “McConnell is savvy. He likely supports #USAFreedomAct, b/c it authorizes bulk collection & NSA/FBI support it. But by pushing for clean #PatriotAct, McConnell buys leverage to make #USAFreedomAct even worse. He wins unless pro-privacy forces unite.”

Politico notes that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “How can one reauthorize something that’s illegal? This is not a partisan issue… Democrats and Republicans are united in reforming the National Security Agency and how they collect their data.”

A bipartisan joint statement by Senators Mike Lee and Ron Wyden read, “We will not agree to any extension of the NSA’s bulk-collection program, which has already been ruled unlawful by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate should not delay reform again this year.”

If the Senate does not act before June 1, the PATRIOT Act’s domestic spying provisions will expire. The Senate is preparing to consider three bills next week to address that controversy: the USA FREEDOM Act, a two-month extension of the PATRIOT Act, and a five-year PATRIOT Act re-authorization.