Sensenbrenner on the Patriot Act

Rep. James Sensenbrenner has an op-ed in the Guardian about the recent revelations by that newspaper that the NSA is getting all the metadata on nearly every cell phone call in the country every day. There’s a lot of hypocritical partisan posturing in it, predictably, but the core seems undeniable to me:

Technically, the administration’s actions were lawful insofar as they were done pursuant to an order from the Fisa court. But based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the Fisa court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended.

The released Fisa order requires daily productions of the details of every call that every American makes, as well as calls made by foreigners to or from the United States. Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations. How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?

This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.

Of course it does. And the question he poses only has one possible answer: It isn’t. It can’t be. And even if it did comply with the Patriot Act, it can’t possibly be in compliance with the 4th Amendment, which requires a warrant for every seizure of information by the government based on probable cause.

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  • trucreep
  • But if you’re going to be a true* conservative and promote constitutional originalism, then the only thing that counts as “information” would be what was available at the time of the writing of the Constitution. And since the Constitution says nothing about cell phones, the Internet, or even mentions “meta-data”, then all of those things aren’t covered by the Constitution.

    … right?

    Or is Sensenbrenner only angry about THIS president’s unlawful use of an unconstitutional law, because it’s THIS president (who is trying to “destroy his country” or some hyperbolic GOP b.s.) and not HIS president (who could – obviously – have done no wrong when he used the Patriot Act as the justification to have the NSA spy on Americans)?

    BTW, I’m willing to be corrected on my assumption that Sensenbrenner didn’t argue when George W. Bush used the Patriot Act unconstitutionally.

  • Curt Cameron

    They are specifically investigating every cell phone call every American makes!

  • ricko

    Jim Sensenbrenner is about as smart of John Boehner or Eric Cantor. Unfortunately, he is my Congressperson.

    And, except for my town (and any other Milwaukee County land he may represent, although there isn’t much), he’s got a nice district, for a moron.

  • sillose

    what would YOU call someone who funds the organization that originally funded and trained bin laden? i’m pretty sure those fuckers are terrorist sympathizers, and we should all be watched very closely.

    9/11 was a ruse by those dastardly ‘american people’ to convince the goverment that we weren’t terrorists and/or sympathizers!