We oppose the PATRIOT Act and support its full repeal. But until we can repeal it, we need to curb its abuse by the Department of Justice.
Last week, Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committees with access to classified information, charged the U.S. Department of Justice with misleading the public about the scope of its powers under the PATRIOT Act.
Until we can repeal the PATRIOT Act, Americans have at least the right as citizens in a democracy to understand the legal limits of government power to collect our personal information, and to hold government officials accountable for the decisions they make regarding our civil liberties.
Tell Attorney General Holder to correct the public record on this secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act was written to allow the government to obtain evidence as a part of a national security investigation, but the New York Times reports that government agencies have utilized a classified interpretation of Section 215 as a justification to retrieve personal information not linked to espionage or terrorism cases.
The Department of Justice has previously claimed that Section 215 gives power that is equivalent to a Grand Jury subpoena. But shockingly, Sens. Wyden and Udall say that statement is highly misleading and that a classified interpretation from a national security court is being used as a justification to collect private information that would not be admissible in a regular court of law.
While the exact interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act is classified, there is no reason that Department of Justice officials should be misleading the American public about the way that public statute is used to collect private information.
This is a clear violation of our civil liberties and we have a right to know the truth about this secret interpretation.
Tell Attorney General Holder to correct the public record on this secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act and to ensure that other Obama Administration officials do not mislead the public in the future.
Attorney General Holder has listened to public pressure before. We know that he cares about the opinion of Americans, and that is why it is so important that we join Sens. Wyden and Udall in calling on the Department of Justice to stop issuing misleading statements about their secret collection of private information.