Bipartisan House Bill would Repeal Patriot Act and Ban Mass Surveillance of Americans

Friday, March 27, 2015
Reps. Mark Pocan and Thomas Massie (photos: Getty Images)

An ambitious bipartisan bill that would seriously roll back the federal government’s ability to conduct surveillance operations has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

HR 1466 (pdf) (the Surveillance State Repeal Act) would do away with the Patriot Act (pdf) and ban large-scale spying programs, such as the National Security Agency’s telephone metadata collection that has generated so much controversy. It is the most far-reaching anti-surveillance legislation drafted to date.

 

“This isn’t just tinkering around the edges, it’s a meaningful overhaul that makes sure the meaningless surveillance of emails and cell phones are done away with,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), one of the bill’s authors, told a briefing for congressional staffers, according to ThinkProgress. The coauthor of HR 1466 is Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky).

 

The bill’s original co-sponsors are Democrats Alan Grayson of Florida, James McGovern of Massachusetts and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. Other supporters include libertarian organizations opposed to widespread government spying.

 

Patrick Eddington, national security and civil liberties policy analyst for the libertarian think tank CATO Institute, said: “All mass surveillance does is violate the rights and put a chilling effect on the American people.”

 

The legislation also would eliminate numerous surveillance permissions granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (pdf) amendments approved by Congress during the George W. Bush administration.

 

The Hill reported that the proposal is “likely to be a nonstarter for leaders in Congress, who have been worried that even much milder reforms to the nation’s spying laws would tragically handicap the nation’s ability to fight terrorists. A similar bill was introduced in 2013 but failed to gain any movement in the House.”

 

Congress has until June 1 to reauthorize portions of the Patriot Act that support the government’s surveillance operation. Without reauthorization of the law’s Section 215, the telephone metadata program will expire.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

House Members Move To Repeal The Patriot Act With Strongest Anti-Surveillance Bill To Date (by Lauren Williams, ThinkProgress)

U.S. To Stop Collecting Bulk Phone Data If Spying Law Expires (by Mark Hosenball, Reuters)

House Effort Would Completely Dismantle Patriot Act (by Julian Hattem, The Hill)

HR 1466 (Congress.gov) (pdf)

All Bill Information (Except Text) for H.R.1466 - Surveillance State Repeal Act (Congress.gov)

NSA Coalition Letter (pdf)

Justice Dept. Agrees to Release Secret Memo Relating to Patriot Act and Census Info (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

NSA Phone Data Collection Made No Difference to National Security (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Comments

anonamouse 1 year ago
The leadership are never going to permit repeal of GWBush's unconstitutional, paranoid "enabling act." Not because they fear terrorism. Ten years of draconian "Homeland" ("fatherland" would have been a little too obvious, doncha think?) surveillance have demonstrated there is no homegrown terrorism, only FBI dupes persuaded to act on implanted thoughts. No, what the leadership fears is the American people. Hence, the creation of Centcom, the military command for the "Homeland." Centcom's brief involves running the country in the event of civil unrest; in other words, in the event the people find it imperative to change the government, the government will be able to resist using martial law imposed under the PATRIOT Act. Now, that's real democracy! ... Copy ed's aside: Isn't the style on acronyms "all up?"

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