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.