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Bill Would Force Intel Chief to Renounce ‘Secret Patriot Act’

• Spencer Ackerman via
 For months, two Senators have screamed bloody murder that the government holds a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act so broad that it amounts to a whole different law giving the feds massive domestic surveillance powers. Now, a measure by Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall would force the U.S. intelligence chief, and by extension the entire intelligence community, to admit that they went too far in their Patriot Act interpretations — if they don’t find a way to wiggle out of it.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meets Thursday to prepare the annual bill authorizing the U.S. intelligence agency’s operations. During that “mark-up” process, Wyden and Udall will ask their colleagues to include a measure compelling the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to produce a “detailed assessment of the problems posed by the reliance of government agencies” (.pdf) on “interpretations of domestic surveillance authorities that are inconsistent with the understanding of such authorities by the public.” Wyden’s staff provided Danger Room with a copy of the proposed amendment.

Specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper would have to produce “a plan for addressing such problems” with secret legal interpretations regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Patriot Act, the government’s two most important domestic spying laws.

The bill, though, doesn’t force Holder and Clapper to roll back those secret interpretations. They’ve just got to basically admit they’ve messed up. Even if Wyden and Udall can get their colleagues to sign on to their effort, it would be naive to think the nation’s top prosecutor and intelligence officer are so thick that they can’t find an artful way of saying they’ve done nothing wrong.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Anonymous
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In this country, there is nothing the enemy within and their political paid hacks could do to discredit the Patriot Act and defeat its purpose of protecting American citizens from terrorist activities. They can cry out loud as much as they can with blood of tears running down their checks, but the American people are not that stupid to fall for their Holywood act.

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