This year, I intend to re-introduce the USA FREEDOM Act. For more than a year, I have pushed this important bill to reform the government’s surveillance authorities. More than ever it is imperative Congress enact it into law. The USA FREEDOM Act represents government at its best. It is the product of a robust public debate and intense bipartisan negotiations dedicated to finding a way to protect our Constitutional rights without compromising national security.
Below is information on the legislation I introduced with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last congress. An amended version of the bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. A further amended version was passed on the House floor by a vote of 303-121. Unfortunately, in the Senate, a procedural measure to bring the bill to the floor fell two votes short, 58-42.
Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act
H.R. 3361/ S. 1599
Purpose: To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.
End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records
• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
• The bill would strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.
• The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.
Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.
• The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.
• The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.
• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.
• Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.
• The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.
National Security Letters
• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection. It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.
6/6/13 Author of Patriot Act: FBI's FISA Order is Abuse of Patriot Act
6/17/13 DOJ Responds to Sensenbrenner's Letter Regarding Interpretation of Patriot Act
8/1/13 Sensenbrenner Meets in Oval Office to Discuss National Security and Civil Liberties
9/6/13 Implications of Bulk Collection on the Second Amendment
9/6/13 Sensenbrenner and NRA Support ACLU Lawsuit
10/8/13 Sensenbrenner Sends Letter to Holder on DOJ's Interpretation of Patriot Act
10/29/13 Leahy & Sensenbrenner Join to Introduce USA FREEDOM Act
11/1/13 USA FREEDOM Act Draws Bipartisan Praise
11/11/13 Sensenbrenner Testifies Before European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee
11/19/13 Sensenbrenner Delivers Keynote Address on NSA/FISA Reform at Georgetown Law
12/16/13 Federal Judge: NSA's Metadata Collection Program Likely Unconstitutional
Op-Eds by Congressman Sensenbrenner:
6/9/13 The Guardian: This Abuse of the Patriot Act Must End
7/23/13 Politico: How Secrecy Erodes Democracy
8/19/13 The Los Angeles Times: How Obama Has Abused the Patriot Act
10/28/13 Politico: The Case for NSA Reform
11/2/13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: NSA abused trust, must be reined in
11/20/13 The Guardian: The NSA overreach poses a serious threat to our economy
10/28/13 The New York Times Editorial Board: The White House on Spying
11/2/13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's quest to rein in the NSA
11/3/13 The Washington Times Editorial Board: Feinstein's deception
11/5/13 The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: NSA's metadata program: End it, don't mend it
11/6/13 Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial Board: Spy games
6/6/13 The Hill: Patriot Act author 'extremely troubled' by NSA phone tracking
6/6/13 Fox News: Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone collection 'never the intent' of law
6/6/13 Politico: NSA violated law
6/27/13 The New York Times: The Criminal N.S.A.
7/10/13 The Washington Post: Lawmakers say administration's lack of candor on surveillance weakens oversight
7/17/13 The New York Times: Bipartisan Backlash Grows Against Domestic Surveillance
7/18/13 The Guardian: White House stays silent on renewal of NSA data collection order
7/28/13 The New York Times: Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance
10/10/13 The Guardian: The USA FREEDOM Act: a look at the key points of the draft bill
10/10/13 The Guardian: Patriot Act author prepares bill to put NSA bulk collection 'out of business'
10/11/13 The Washington Post: Patriot Act author: 'There has been a failure of oversight'
10/28/13 The Washington Post: NSA bills set up a choice in Congress: End bulk collection of phone records or endorse it
10/29/13 U.S. News & World Report: Freedom Act to End NSA Data Collection Introduced
12/9/13 The Guardian: Tech giants' demand for NSA reform "a major game-changer," advocates say
12/9/13 The Guardian: Twitter, Facebook and more demand sweeping changes to US surveillance
1/8/14 The Guardian: Obama nears decision on NSA reforms as spy leaders meet at White House
1/9/14 The Hill: Obama meets with lawmakers as part of surveillance review
3/13/14 National Journal: Patriot Act Author: CIA Spying Is 'Almost-Nixonian"
3/13/14 The Hill: Does the NSA spy on members of Congress?
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PEN American Center
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Association of American Publishers
Brennan Center for Justice
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American Library Association
Government Accountability Project
Project On Government Oversight
Information Technology Industry Council
Bob Barr, former Member of Congress (R-Ga.); CEO, Liberty Strategies, LLC; 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, the American Conservative Union; Chairman, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.); Adjunct Professor of
Government and Public Policy, College of William and Mary; Chief of
Staff, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell , 2002-2005
Association of Research Libraries
Consumer & Communications Industry Association
Arab American Institute
American Association of Law Libraries
Center for National Security Studies
Center for Democracy and Technology
Defending Dissent Foundation
Center for Media and Democracy
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
American Booksellers Association
Free Press Action Fund
Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
AIDS Policy Project
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
Computer and Communications Industry Assoc.
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Coalition Against Unsolicited E-mail
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Constitution Project
Cyber Privacy Project
First Amendment Coalition
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Freedom to Read Foundation
Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom
Global Network Initiative
Human Rights Watch
Open Technology Institute
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Security Counselors
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Reporters Without Borders
Republican Liberty Caucus
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NY Tech Meetup
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