Reps. Republican Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are co-sponsoring a bill designed to repeal the Patriot Act. Their bipartisan legislation designed is designed, they say, to limit government surveillance of people without warrants and probable cause.
“The intelligence community has not been transparent or honest with the American people or even Congress about what they’ve been doing,” Gabbard said.
The Protect Our Civil Liberties Act would repeal both the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act that permitted government agencies to collect mass telephone and email data. Gabbard and Massie argue that this surveillance violates Americans’ right to privacy and their civil liberties.
According to a press release from Gabbard’s office:
Background: H.R.8970, the Protect Our Civil Liberties Act, a bipartisan bill, would repeal the USA PATRIOT Act as well as amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to address dangerous changes made to it in the years following the 9/11 attacks. and which were not addressed by subsequent FISA amendments made by Congress. The USA PATRIOT Act along with changes to FISA has been used to undermine Americans’ civil liberties, particularly Fourth Amendment protections.
In a video announcement Wednesday, Gabbard said the bill would make sure that Congress “reexamines how best to strike this balance of protecting our national security interests while also ensuring that the constitutional rights of every single American is preserved.”
“Protection of our civil liberties is essential,” she later said. “Join us in making sure that our constitutional rights are upheld.”
The Hawaii Democrat also called out the intelligence community, saying it “has not been transparent or honest with the American people or even Congress about what they’ve been doing.”
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Ben Franklin@RepThomasMassie & I intro'd 'Protect Our Civil Liberties Act' (HR8970) to repeal the so-called Patriot Act & end illegal government surveillance pic.twitter.com/QEB8gKxFKu— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) December 16, 2020
From the press release:
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms for every American — including the right to privacy and protection against illegal search and seizure without probable cause. Unfortunately, the so-called Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act allowed the intelligence community to conduct mass surveillance on Americans, collecting information about our phone calls and our emails,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Our legislation will repeal these laws and require Congress to strike the right balance between serving our national security interests and protecting our civil liberties and Fourth Amendment rights.”
“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Rep. Thomas Massie. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am honored to co-sponsor Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill and look forward to working with her on this issue.”
The Protect Our Civil Liberties Act would:
- Repeal the PATRIOT Act (which contains provisions allowing for mass telephone metadata collection)
- Repeal the FISA Amendments Act (which contains provisions allowing for mass email collection), except for provisions regarding FISA court reporting and WMD intelligence collection.
- Makes retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and provides for the termination of individuals who engage in such retaliation.
- Ensure that any FISA collection against a U.S. person can only occur with a valid warrant based on probable cause (which was the original FISA standard from 1978 to 2001).
- Retain the ability for government surveillance capabilities to be targeted against a specific non-U.S. person, regardless of the type of communications method(s) or device(s) being used by the subject of the surveillance.
- Retain provisions in current law dealing with the acquisition of intelligence information involving weapons of mass destruction from entities not composed primarily of U.S. persons.
- Prohibit government-mandated “back doors” in electric devices or software that allow the government to bypass encryption or other privacy technology built into said hardware and/or software.
- Increase the terms of judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from seven to ten years and allow their reappointment.
- Mandate that the FISC utilize technologically competent technical and legal experts (Special Masters) to help determine the veracity of government claims about privacy, minimization and collection capabilities employed by the U.S. government in FISA applications.
- Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law, including responding to Member requests for investigations and whistleblower complaints of wrongdoing.
- Explicitly ban the use of Executive Order 12333 as a way of conducting surveillance on U.S. persons or mass collection of information