For Immediate Release
Zach Lowe (Feingold) - (202) 224-8657
Max Gleischman (Durbin) - (202) 228-5244
Patrick Devlin (Tester) - (202) 224-2644
Marissa Padilla (Udall) - (202) 224-6621
Jude McCartin (Bingaman) - (202) 224-1804
Will Wiquist (Sanders) - (202) 228-6357
Jesse Broder Van Dyke (Akaka) - (202) 224-7045
Mary Conley (Wyden) - (202) 224-3789
Senators Introduce PATRIOT Act Fixes to Safeguard Americans' Rights
JUSTICE Act, Introduced on Constitution Day 2009, Would Fix Long Standing Problems with the PATRIOT Act and Other Surveillance Laws
(D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman
(D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ron
Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to fix problems with surveillance
laws that threaten the rights and liberties of American citizens. The
Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act
would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other
surveillance authorities to protect Americans' constitutional rights,
while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism.
JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of
Americans' personal records, the "sneak and peek" search
provision of the PATRIOT Act, "John Doe" roving wiretaps and other
overbroad authorities. The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act,
passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing
"bulk collection" of the contents of Americans' international
communications, and prohibiting "reverse targeting" of innocent
Americans. And the bill enables better oversight of the use of National
Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General
issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs. The Senate
Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 23rd, on reauthorization
of the USA PATRIOT Act.
single member of Congress wants to give our law enforcement and intelligence
officials the tools they need to keep Americans safe," said Feingold.
"But with the PATRIOT Act up for reauthorization, we should take this opportunity
to fix the flaws in our surveillance laws once and for all. The JUSTICE
Act permits the government to conduct necessary surveillance, but within a
framework of accountability and oversight. It ensures both that our
government has the tools to keep us safe, and that the privacy and civil
liberties of innocent Americans will be protected. When he was in the Senate,
President Obama was a strong ally on these issues, and I look forward to
working with his administration to find common ground on commonsense
"The Government must
use every legal tool available to protect us from the threat of global
terrorism. But when those tools override Americans' fundamental rights
and liberties, we run the very real risk of never getting them back," Durbin
said. "As we move toward reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act,
we're proposing commonsense changes to better protect our most basic
constitutional rights. Our bill strikes a careful balance between the law
enforcement powers needed to combat terrorism and the legal protections
required to safeguard American liberties."
"Like a lot of
Montanans, I have serious concerns about the PATRIOT Act and how it was
implemented," Tester said. "What this bill will do is
add commonsense so we can fight terrorism without ignoring the Constitution and
without invading the privacy and civil rights of law-abiding Americans."
recent years, I believe our government has failed to protect the constitutional
right to privacy for American citizens," Tom Udall said.
"The JUSTICE Act strikes the right balance between respecting the needs
of our law enforcement to pursue suspected terrorists and upholding the rights
of law-abiding citizens to live free from unnecessary government intrusion in
their lives. I firmly believe we can keep our nation secure without infringing
on the inherent rights of the American people. "
"We must provide law
enforcement with the tools they need to protect our country, and do so in a way
that also safeguards Americans' rights. This legislation addresses
both of these important objectives by ensuring our security and upholding our
cherished constitutional protections," Bingaman said.
understands that we have got to do every single thing we can to protect the
American people from terrorist attacks. There is no debate about that. Some of
us believe, however, that we can be successful in doing that while we uphold
the rule of law, while we uphold the Constitution of this country, which has
made us the envy of the world," Sanders said.
Senator Akaka said: "The JUSTICE Act will allow intelligence
agents to monitor terrorism suspects while putting checks in place to ensure
that law-abiding Americans' privacy and civil liberties are
JUSTICE Act rights some of the basic wrongs of the PATRIOT
Act, which became a poster child for the Bush Administration's lack of
respect for Americans' privacy rights," said Wyden.
"This bill is designed to keep every law-abiding American free from
arbitrary government surveillance. At the same time, it gives law
enforcement the agility needed to go after actual terrorists and spies who
would do our country harm."
Fact Sheet JUSTICE Act Of 2009
Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE)
Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA
Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect the constitutional
rights of Americans while ensuring the government has the powers it needs to
fight terrorism and collect intelligence.
Title I - Reasonable Safeguards to Protect the Privacy of
101-106 - National Security Letters
bill rewrites the National Security Letter (NSL) statutes to ensure the FBI can
obtain basic information without a court order, but also adds reasonable
safeguards to ensure NSLs are only used to obtain records of people who have some connection to terrorism or espionage, and to provide
meaningful, constitutionally sound judicial review of NSLs and associated gag
Section 107 - Section 215 Orders
The bill would reauthorize
the use of Section 215 business records orders under FISA, but with additional
checks and balances to ensure these orders are only used to obtain records of
people who have some connection to terrorism or
espionage, and to provide meaningful, constitutionally sound judicial
review of Section 215 orders and associated gag orders.
Title II -
Reasonable Safeguards to Protect the Privacy of Americans' Homes
Section 201 -
"Sneak & Peek" Searches
bill would retain the Patriot Act's authorization of "sneak and
peek" criminal searches but eliminate the overbroad catch-all provision
that allows these secret searches in virtually any criminal case. It
would shorten the presumptive time limits for notification, and create a
statutory exclusionary rule.
Title III - Reasonable Safeguards to Protect the Privacy of
301 - FISA Roving Wiretaps
bill would reauthorize roving FISA wiretaps, but eliminate the possibility of
"John Doe" roving
wiretaps that identify neither the person nor the phone to be wiretapped.
It would require agents to ascertain the presence of the target of a roving
wiretap before beginning surveillance.
Section 302 - Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices
The bill would retain the
Patriot Act's expansion of the FISA and criminal pen/trap authorities to
cover electronic communications, but would allow
pen/traps to be used only to obtain information about people who have some connection to terrorism or espionage. It
would impose additional procedural safeguards to serve as a check on these
Section 303 - Telecommunications Immunity
The bill would repeal the
retroactive immunity provision in the FISA Amendments Act.
Section 304 - Bulk Collection
The bill retains the new
warrantless authorities in the FISA Amendments Act but would prevent the
government from using that law to conduct "bulk collection" of the
contents of communications, including all communications between the United
States and the rest of the world.
Section 305 - Reverse Targeting
The bill would ensure that
the overseas warrantless collection authorities of the FISA Amendments Act are
not used as a pretext to target Americans in the U.S.
Section 306 - Use of Unlawfully Obtained Information
The bill would limit the
government's use of information about Americans obtained under FISA
Amendments Act procedures that the FISA Court later determines to be unlawful,
while giving the court flexibility to allow such information to be used in
Section 307 - Protections for International Communications of
The bill would amend the FISA
Amendments Act to create safeguards for communications not related to terrorism
that the government knows have one end in the United States.
Section 308 - Computer Trespass
The bill would guard against
abuse of a warrantless surveillance authority in the Patriot Act that allows
computer owners who are subject to denial of service attacks or other episodes
of hacking to give the government permission to monitor trespassers on their
Title IV -
Improvements to Further Congressional and Judicial Oversight
Section 401 - FISA
The bill would require
limited additional public reporting on the use of FISA.
Section 402 - Use of
The bill would apply the
Classified Information Procedures Act to the use of FISA evidence in criminal cases,
and allow the use of protective orders and other security measures in civil
cases, to ensure that courts have discretion to allow litigants access to
information where appropriate while still protecting sensitive information.
Section 403 -
Nationwide Court Orders
The bill would permit a
recipient of a nationwide court order to challenge it either in the district
where it was issued or in the district where the recipient is located.
Title V -
Improvements to Further Effective, Focused Investigations
Section 501 - Domestic Terrorism
The Patriot Act's
overbroad definition of domestic terrorism could cover acts of civil
disobedience by political organizations. The bill would limit the
qualifying offenses for domestic terrorism to those that constitute a federal
crime of terrorism.
Section 502 - Material Support
The bill would amend the
overly broad criminal definition of material support for terrorism by
specifying that a person must know or intend the support provided will be used
for terrorist activity.
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.