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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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June 6, 2013 - 9:31 am

The author of the Patriot Act said the top secret court order to collect the phone records of essentially every call made by millions of Verizon customers is an abuse of the landmark legislation.

“As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said this morning.

“The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Sensenbrenner wrote Attorney General Eric Holder today, saying “these reports are deeply concerning and raise questions about whether our constitutional rights are secure.”

The congressman said the FBI applied for the phone records under section 215 of the act, which requires the government to meet certain investigative criteria to prove to the court the need to obtain business records.

“I insisted upon sunsetting this provision in order to ensure Congress had an opportunity to reassess the impact the provision had on civil liberties,” Sensenbrenner wrote. “I also closely monitored and relied on testimony from the Administration about how the Act was being interpreted to ensure that abuses had not occurred.”

He pointed to 2011 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in which members were assured by an acting assistant attorney general that the provision was being used sparingly, for driver’s license, hotel, car rental and leasing records.

“The Department’s testimony left the Committee with the impression that the Administration was using the business records provision sparingly and for specific materials,” Sensenbrenner continued. “The recently released FISA order, however, could not have been drafted more broadly.”‘

“I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. How could the phone records of so many innocent Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation as required by the Act?”

Sensenbrenner asked Holder to respond to a series of questions about why the order was so broad and how his department interprets Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing this morning, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) tried asking Holder about the Verizon records, but Holder brushed off the question, saying the hearing wasn’t the appropriate forum in which to discuss the order.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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"I have always worried about potential abuses"

Did you really think it wouldn't happen, once the Dems got in charge again? Really?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Attempting to rein in Holder, an AG mastermind lawbreaker, is akin to trying to stop Jesse James from robbing banks, but without strong handcuffs dangling at ones side. The fact of the matter is that no one, least of all Congress and the media, should be shocked by Holder's lawbreaking, and on a multiplicity of levels.

For if this was the case, why was this written "back in the day", and before all the scandals broke? - http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/08/01/will-barack-hussein-obamas-lawless-justice-department-under-the-aegis-of-ag-holder-finally-fall-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

Blind as a bat leadership. Derelict in the extreme.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm guessing here since I don't really know for sure but I'm willing to bet this is just the tip of the ice-burg.

What the hell else does The Campaign's Czars have to do besides spying on ALL Americans. My country has the feel of the 1950s USSR lately.

There is more to come - that much is for sure. There is a lot of smoke about lately! How long before the MSM does a full pirouette and turns on these criminal elements in our government?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The MSM is loving this, because it is revenge on the people and groups that are causing their demise.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The headline with Sensenbrenner's remark is beyond parody. The unfortunately-named "Patriot Act" was designed to be abused by scoundrels like Holder and his boss. You -- and others -- reap what you sow, Senator!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, when is someone going to leak the orders for the other major cell networks?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not going to happen to Democrat donors.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whenever I see stories like this, I always wonder "What planet has the author been living on?" I would guess that at least a million americans a DAY are arrested ("siezed") and searched without a warrant, some of them undergoing intrusive body cavity searches, searches of their extremely private belongings in their own homes, searches behind body panels in their automobiles.

And this is wildly popular with the general public. Were the Fourth Amendment to be proposed today, there is virtually no chance that it would be adopted, with absolute and unequivocal opposition from the Law Enforcement cartel.

Again, what rock has this author been hiding under?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The author is just the "messenger" here. She usually does the equivalent at PJM of "straight" news, so don't be too hard on her. I was during the elections campaign last year, until it turned out that her "straight" reporting, which annoyed me, was closer to the truth of the election's actual outcome.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is great news. Lets send free Obama phones to suspected but not proven terrorists. I mean, talk about worthwhile.

Don't you marvel at the wisdom of Liberals? If we want to bug the phones of Abdul the Fanatic we have to get two warrants - one from a Judge and one from God. And in the next breath they bug all calls of every Verizon subscriber.

As for redundancy, by the way, isn't the Government recording all cell phone calls from all carriers under project Echelon anyway?

During the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when in truly frightening detail newspapers reproduced in quotes the last conversations between people on the planes and their loved one, where did the record of the calls came from? You think the reporters asked all those people? I doubt it. You think they made the conversations up? I doubt that also.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was a Republican Administration/President; They were fully employed, versus now, where they are all reporting from some extended stay resort.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"“I insisted upon sunsetting this provision in order to ensure Congress had an opportunity to reassess the impact the provision had on civil liberties,” Sensenbrenner wrote."

He unintentionally points to the best possible solution for legal overreach with statutory laws. The next amendment to the Constitution should be a "sunset" amendment. All laws passed by Congress and signed by the President become inoperable after 10 years and are to be stricken from the legal code. That includes all administrative bodies, enforcement mechanisms, rules and regulation promulgated in accordance therewith, etc. Whether or not this particular action had cover under the PATRIOT Act (debatable) would be moot if the entire law had been vacated automatically by now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You will get term limits for Congressmen before that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How do you think the IRS knew who to audit/question? 'phone numbers are associated with physical addresses. We know where leading Tea Party folks live. We collect their inbound records and identify TEA Party participants. Sure, there'd be additional cross sorting but by reviewing the 'phones logs auditing targets could easily be identified.
For the first time, I got an IRS 2000 for my 2011 return. My CPA wrote a letter pf explanation and the IRS closed the file. But, it cost me $300 for the letter. I didn't make any TEA Party calls, but I did write a bunch of small checks directly to the campaigns of patriots. So, my next bet is that Timmy's folks at Treasury are monitoring/collectioning information on individual financial transactions and feeding it to the IRS.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's worry? The IRS is monitoring the situationn to avoid potential abuses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I feel better now
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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