July 17 2013
Vicki E. Alger
Lead Patriot Act author Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) says government cannot collect data from businesses without ever obtaining a warrant. This means the days of the Obama administration’s eavesdropping on our phone calls and other communications are numbered. As the Washington Times reports:
The lawmaker who wrote the Patriot Act said Wednesday that as it stands right now, the House will never renew the provisions that the Obama administration uses to collect phone records of every American, meaning the program will be cut off at the end of 2015.
In a contentious hearing with top officials, both Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly battled with top administration officials, saying they don’t accept President Obama’s claim that the law allows it to collect the phone numbers, time, date and duration of calls made by Americans.
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who was chief author of the Patriot Act in 2001, said that Congress specifically tried to limit the law’s uses when it renewed the provisions that allow the government to collect data from businesses without ever obtaining a warrant.
In that 2005 renewal Congress added in the word ‘relevant’ to try to limit what the government was going after. But Mr. Sensenbrenner said the intelligence community has actually expanded, not limited, its data gathering after Congress tried to reel it in.
‘Section 215 expires at the end of 2015 and unless you realize you’ve got a problem, that is not going to be renewed. There are not the votes in the House to renew section 215,’ he said. ‘It’s got to be changed and you have to change how you operate section 215. Otherwise in a year or a year and a half you’re not going to have it anymore.’
Ironically enough, back when the president served in the Senate he wanted to end “government fishing expeditions” under Provision 215. My, how times—and supposed principles—have changed.