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Senator Jeff Sessions: Keep Patriot Act As Is

Senator Jeff Sessions Speaks on Senate Floor

In a powerfully argued op-ed in yesterday’s National Review Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of Capitol Hill’s leading limited government constitutional conservatives and the de facto leader of the growing “populist conservative” movement, made the case for keeping the Patriot Act, and especially its controversial Section 215 bulk data collection program, as is.

In arguing for the retention of Section 215 Sessions was particularly critical of the USA Freedom Act, which just passed the House in a substantial bipartisan vote of 338-88.

In Sessions’ view “it should not be more difficult to investigate a terrorist plot than check fraud. As the National Academy of Sciences noted in its recent report, Section 215 of the Patriot Act simply “allow[s] the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] to require production of documents and other tangible things determined relevant to national security investigations, much like other courts do in criminal and grand jury investigations.” But unlike in the criminal context, Section 215 is subject to extraordinary oversight by the Executive and Judicial branches, as well as minimization procedures to protect Americans’ civil liberties.”

Moreover, argues Senator Sessions, “information acquired under Section 215 can be accessed by only a limited number of trained intelligence professionals and only after the government has demonstrated to the court that there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a number or identifier is associated with a specific foreign-terrorist organization.”

Compare this, says Sessions, “with how a local district attorney can obtain the same type of information in a routine criminal case. He issues a grand-jury subpoena for phone records, which requires only a showing that the records are relevant to an investigation. The subpoena could require the production of much more detailed information than is acquired under Section 215, such as names and addresses of the callers. Indeed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Internal Revenue Service can obtain telephone call records and bank records with an administrative subpoena without even a prosecutor’s approval, much less approval by a judge. The Supreme Court has long held this process constitutional under the Fourth Amendment because such information is already in the hands of a third-party — the phone companies — and therefore, a customer has no reasonable expectation of privacy in that information.”

Senator Sessions then argues that “the USA Freedom Act would prevent our intelligence officers from obtaining information in this manner at all,” citing former federal judge and attorney general Michael Mukasey who said, “The bill’s imposition of the warrant requirement on the NSA would be more burdensome than what any assistant U.S. attorney must do to get metadata in a routine criminal case, which is simply to aver that the information is needed in connection with a criminal investigation — period.”

From the practical day-to-day needs of fighting Islamist terror Sessions says the USA Freedom Act would also eliminate entirely the database through which the NSA is able to quickly access information to connect the dots in order to prevent terror attacks. This is significant notes Sessions because, as the National Academy of Sciences explained, in contrast to domestic law enforcement . . . the world of intelligence analysis has many fewer tools available for investigation. In hostile foreign environments, personal interviews and observations and records review are much more limited. Accordingly, concluded Sessions, “the role of bulk data as a way to understand the significance of past events is important, and the loss of this tool becomes more serious.”

What’s more, concluded Senator Sessions, the USA Freedom Act relies on a nonexistent, untested system and the hope that private companies will agree to retain records long enough for the NSA to obtain data when it may be critical to preventing an imminent attack. But as the National Academy of Sciences noted, “there is no technological magic . . . that will fully substitute for bulk collection” and service providers “have no incentive to cooperate, even if paid; indeed, their customers may object to such cooperation.” Moreover, requiring the government to obtain a court order every time it seeks to search data held by private companies would significantly delay investigations, giving terrorists a substantial operational advantage.

Senator Sessions’ conclusion – that it ought not be more difficult to investigate terrorism than it is to investigate a common felony case was echoed by the Editors of National Review, who said in a complimentary editorial supporting the renewal of the Patriot Act, “The gathering of bulk metadata also allows intelligence analysts to track the organization and funding of terror networks in a way that would be much more tedious, if not outright impossible, under the USA Freedom Act. The president has made only a half-hearted case for these powers, but given their obvious utility and vanishingly small effect on privacy, Congress ought to renew them.”

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The Pat Act

I am one who abhors the DHS, it is a over reach, it smacks of KGB and it is nebulous, the Pat Act was the birth of the DHS but in all due consideration there is need to up the security measures with commonsense and sun down thinking, we Americans do not like open handed intrusion called security, it's one of the reasons we kicked out the King George Brits and did not invite them back.

We can modify and legislate with proper oversight security thinking that would be effective and give latitude to address those working within and without to damage this nation.. We can also assure that we can and will keep the Constitution in the forefront while we pursue the enemy....Legal action requires the ability to work and putting judicial and tribunal law in perspective for the acts of undermining government and destroying our way of life can be identified and directed but the American rule of law is always in play to protect freedoms.....We may not be willing to have at this time all of both but we can keep a hand on the best of both..

Sessions Walks the Walk !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Senator Sessions is rare man of principle and what important here is that not only does Sessions Talk the Talk but he does something very few of our nations politicians do which is Walk the Walk.

Sessions would make a fantastic President but even more important than that is Sessions ability to articulate sound legislation on behalf of the American people.

In my opinion Sessions should have the Majority Speakers job and we should get rid of McConnell once and for all. Because of Sessions legislative ability and experience he would serve our country best where we need it most and that is in the Senate. However, if that is not possible I believe there should be a draft Sessions for President.

I believe Sessions is not bought off and he is a man of sound principle. Unfortunately, all of the others who have a desire to be President are compromised and have been bought off by the establishment. I believe Senator Sessions could bring together Ronald Reagan Democrats and Evangelicals and Libertarians in order to run a successful Presidential campaigned and most likely be elected President.


Clinton Berry

Reform TSA

Yes, I'd much rather Congress spent its time reforming TSA so that it profiles only persons the government has reason to suspect of criminal behavior.

Currently TSA operates under the unconstitutional and unAmerican premise that you are guilty until proven innocent by an unlawful search and seizure of our goods and person.

It is a travesty that needs to be severely curtailed.