U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act

“Lawmakers called on Sunday for a review of the government’s monitoring of phone and Internet activities, and one Democrat urged a reopening of the Patriot Act, the post-September 11, 2001 law that gave intelligence agencies broader surveillance powers,” Caren Bohan reports for Reuters. “President Barack Obama’s administration has come under criticism after the disclosure that the super-secret National Security Agency has been collecting massive amounts of data from private companies on phone calls and emails.”

“As lawmakers debated the implications of the U.S. surveillance programs that were first reported in Britain’s Guardian and The Washington Post, the Guardian identified a 29-year-old former CIA technical worker as the source of the leaks about the spy agencies,” Bohan reports. “The Guardian said its source, Edward Snowden, had asked the newspaper to reveal his identity. The surveillance activity has stirred a debate over privacy rights in the United States.”

Bohan reports, “Senator Mark Udall, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he thought another look at the 2001 U.S.A Patriot Act was warranted. ‘I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,’ Udall told the ABC program ‘This Week.’ … Still, two senior lawmakers said the surveillance programs had helped to prevent attacks on the United States and have been subjected to strict oversight. ‘These programs are within the law,’ said Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ‘This Week.’ ‘Part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe,’ added Feinstein. ‘Human intelligence isn’t going to do it.'”

Bohan reports, “The mining of phone records from millions of American customers of a subsidiary of Verizon Communications drew the most concern from lawmakers. A separate, highly classified program, code-named Prism, has given federal authorities access to data from companies including Google Inc., Apple Inc and Facebook Inc on emails, photos and other files, according to the Washington Post. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has been one of the most vocal critics of the surveillance. Paul told ‘Fox News Sunday’ he would consider a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the mining of phone records. ‘They are looking at a billion phone calls a day from what I read in the press and that doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of privacy. It sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy,’ Paul said.”

Read more in the full article here.

Burgess Everett reports for Politico, “Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee is shopping bills that would address some portions of the government monitoring, an aide said, particularly the NSA collection of Verizon phone records. His legislation would likely be similar to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments that he pushed last year with fellow senators like Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).”

“The measures, both of which failed last December, would require the declassification of certain FISA court opinions and require reports on the impact of FISA surveillance on Americans,” Everett reports. “Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he’s likely to support that legislation. ‘We should have done this,’ Durbin said of increasing oversight and transparency on government surveillance. ‘We may not have run into this surprise breaking story these past few days if we did.'”

Everett reports, “Civil libertarians such as Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for strengthening privacy protections. After staying largely quiet this week, Wyden and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) issued a joint statement on Friday afternoon blasting the administration’s use of the Patriot Act. The two have hinted for years that Americans would be shocked at how some of its provisions are used. ‘We respectfully but firmly disagree with the way that this program has been described by senior administration officials. After years of review, we believe statements that this very broad Patriot Act collection has been ‘a critical tool in protecting the nation’ do not appear to hold up under close scrutiny,’ the two Intelligence Committee members said. ‘We also disagree with the statement that the broad Patriot Act collection strikes the ‘right balance’ between protecting American security and protecting Americans’ privacy. In our view it does not,’ they added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: U.S. citizens can join EFF in calling for a full investigation by emailing Congress today via this handy web form.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. “MDN – U.S. citizens can join EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) in calling for a full investigation by emailing Congress today via this handy web form.”

    That’s right folks, who needs getting involved in politics, knowing who you’re voting for or watching the news from several sources to keep yourself informed and involved when you can just contact a private non-profit organization and ask, hey I heard something but I don’t know enough to be angry so can you contact congress for me. Now you know worlds are destroyed.

    This company, Booz Allen Hamilton holdings Inc. is a private contractor the US uses for analyses. Think about all the other “incidents” no knows about because Booz buries them. Letting anything out would destroy their lucrative contract with the US. What checks and balances do they have?

    This person that identified himself as the leaker has only worked for Booz for about 3 months before coping secret info, fleeing US territory and going to Hong Kong before releasing the top secret info. These laws were created under Bush and renewed by both sides of congress several times. This person is not a hero, patriot or whistleblower on account the US did not break any of its laws.

    Where was the news media when the Patriot Act was created, signed and renewed several times?

    Why is the news media not worried about the classified info release that compromised US security?

    Will the news media have any blood on their hands if lives are lost because of these leaks?

    1. Well, bjr, I can clearly recall reading news items about the Patriot Act, and it’s renewal, but then, I live in the UK, and not the US.
      And just because the US didn’t break any of its laws does not make what it is doing either morally right or ethical.
      Any group of politicians can draught and enact laws, but just because they are laws does not, under any circumstances, make them good for America, its people, or the rest of the World.
      Your lack of understanding of this fundamental point makes you ill-equipped to comment on this subject.
      I suggest you return to high school and get an education.

      1. “just because the US didn’t break any of its laws does not make what it is doing either morally right or ethical.”

        What a statement. What for one person is moral and ethical, for another it is immoral and unethical but, the law is the law. Just because you don’t like something or you chose to politicize it as many do when it comes to Obama, does not make it wrong, illegal, unethical or immoral. Call it what is, your personal opinion which changes with the political winds (black guy in office).

        Then there are the Christians that condemn the poor at the behest of the wealthy who want it all contrary to the teaching of Christianity. They believe they have morals, ethics and even courage yet those looking from the outside say they have none.

        When WH counsel A Gonzalez and Busch’s chief of staff, A Card went to the hospital to visit AG J Ashcroft as he lay very ill to have him sign domestic spying act by the NSA, Ashcroft refused because it was illegal. The acting AG at that time J Corney also refused to sign off. It wasn’t until later when the act was changed that it was signed.

        Where in deed were the republican’s ethics excluding Ashcroft and Corney and morals during these times. I remember them saying, well if you’re not a terrorist, then what are you worrying about. Selective memory these republicans have when it comes to such things. If you can’t pin anything illegal on Obama and the dems then use the moral and ethical card even though they, the republicans were right in the middle of it.

        You did not make a point, only a rant based on personal opinions.

  2. U.S. citizens can join EFF in calling for a full investigation by speaking into any AT&T or Verizon handset, or by typing it into an email and sending it privately to a friend, lover or family member — don’t worry, the government will see it.

  3. I chuckled when I read another comment earlier where someone was saying that the difference in what is being discussed now and what occurred under the Bush Administration is that the wiretapping under Bush was “warrantless.” And that Liberals were doing it “legally.”


    Barack Obama signed the FISA act (Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act) which permits spying on Americans.

    Joe Biden himself was the chief architect of the freaking Patriot Act, though it still gets blamed on Bush.

    What conservatives and liberals (people not politicians) need to figure out is that at this point its basically us against them, and it has been for some time.

    Hell, during the Clinton Administration, the NY Times was so in love with him, they called his spying a “necessity.”
    See: http://www.americanthinker.com/2006/01/under_clinton_ny_times_called.html

    What really gets me is the sudden interest in surveillance. This has been going on for YEARS. Hell the Brits first reported on the SIGINT system called “Echelon” as far back as the 1960s.

    With Biden’s Patriot Act in hand, and Obama’s blessing, the NSA ran off to build the biggest surveillance center in the country, in Utah. $2 billion bucks on that puppy. It is scheduled to be up and running this September.

    “… Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy….”

    Ever since the President took office, the sense among Intelligence “watchers” has been that the massive Federal Law Enforcement machine was turned away from external threats and inward toward the American people. Everything from the Administration asking Americans to “inform” on those who disagreed with Obamacare, to the Justice Department warning that returning veterans were a terrorist threat, to the sheer bullying and persecution to DEATH of Arron Swartz, to the latest revelations of IRS abuse against political enemies and spying, to the monitoring of American phone calls, this administration is by far the most “Orwellian” I’ve ever seen.

    Meanwhile drones handle external threats.

    Just because a guy holds his finger to the wind and says, “Uh, I’m for same sex marriage” doesn’t mean he has the best interest of the country at heart. Some would argue just the opposite.

    We cannot allow the Federal Government to continue to grow and insinuate itself into the most minute aspects of our personal lives. We’re just asking for it.

    This is not about racism, sexism etc. Just because I say I don’t want to pay for someone’s birth control doesn’t mean there’s a “war against women.” Just because I think those who pay 70% of the nation’s taxes does indeed constitute their fair share doesn’t mean I’m an anarchist.

    We serving up our freedom and liberty bit by bit. Preserving our civil liberties and the Constitutional rights should be our number one priority as a nation. It is the only thing that protects US from THEM. That’s the sole purpose of that document. If we keep ourselves free, we can hash out the rest of the crap in courts. Free must necessarily include freedom from unwarranted government surveillance. They must be reigned in. They must be reminded that they serve at our behest, that they are the hired help, not the masters.

    “The Constitution is a flawed document” – Barack Obama

  4. About twelve years late, by my calculation. These posturing asshats are finally getting a clue what they did wrong. Too bad it’s trillions of dollars down the road and thousands of casualties later (hundreds of thousands if you count the Muslim “collateral damage”).

    The biggest problem Republicans are having is that Democrats are at the controls of the machine they created. But they were thinking with Bush in the White House it was the start of a Thousand Year Reign. Delusions of grandeur never turn out well.

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