Time to reform the Patriot Act

As usual, the Obama Administration is issuing dire warnings about what will supposedly happen if the U.S. government stops spying on its citizens. The clock runs out on the Patriot Act Sunday night, which only leaves them a few more days to alarm people.

Also as usual, the Obama Administration is on the wrong side of the American people on the issue. According to a recent survey [1] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 60 percent of Americans want to see changes made to the post-9/11 national security law. Another 82 percent of Americans were at least “somewhat concerned” that Washington is “collecting and storing information of Americans.”

The section coming under the wire this weekend is Section 215, which authorizes the federal government to write search warrants for records or surveillance of suspects no matter what phone or device they use. It also allows to feds to gather bulk data on suspects’ computer or phone use. Last week, the House voted on a revised version of the section while the Senate did not – setting the stage for a showdown.

But as Tea Party Patriots Co-Founder wrote in a recent op-ed:

The government claims that current law authorizes it to collect and store records about intimate, personal conversations between husbands and wives, doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and pastors and congregants — all communications that should be, and we all assume are, private.

The worst part? The government routinely collects this information without a warrant or even any suspicion that a person is linked to terrorism. Our local police must get a warrant from a judge in order to search our homes or property. Why is it not the same when the NSA and the federal government want to seize and store intimate details about our private lives? What happened to our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures?

We urge every member of the Senate to vote against renewing the Patriot Act –especially as it’s currently written. It’s time to rein in government surveillance and get serious about reform. Americans want reform. The only thing the Obama administration should be warning us about is governments growing intrusion into our private lives.