The Secret Patriot Act

Senator Ron Wyden

Senator Ron Wyden

Spencer Ackerman reports on Senator Ron Wyden’s claim that there’s a secret Patriot Act, for Wired:

You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ”dragnets” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

“It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.”

That’s why Wyden and his colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization.

The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for “secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.” It would compel the Attorney General to “publicly disclose the United States Government’s official interpretation of the USA Patriot Act.” And, intriguingly, it refers to “intelligence-collection authorities” embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February…

[continues at Wired]

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  • Anton

    A collection of people who want complete control over all people living within their area of reach, isn’t a government, it’s a business out to make profit.

    • quartz99

      Or rather, it’s a business in which the principals are making a tidy profit via kickbacks from their sponsors and leaving the “business” and its “customers” high and dry. I’d hardly say the government is making anything like a _profit_.

  • Anton

    A collection of people who want complete control over all people living within their area of reach, isn’t a government, it’s a business out to make profit.

  • Anonymous

    Or rather, it’s a business in which the principals are making a tidy profit via kickbacks from their sponsors and leaving the “business” and its “customers” high and dry. I’d hardly say the government is making anything like a _profit_.

  • jackedu317

    why not repeal the fucking thing and give us our rights back? oh, that’s not part of the plan i guess…

  • jackedu317

    why not repeal the fucking thing and give us our rights back? oh, that’s not part of the plan i guess…

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I wish that were a new problem. It may have been recently ‘above the board’…but its been done and a part of life in these United States for decades. No Such Agency has been datamining, screening and scanning communications almost as long as most of us have been alive…making it quasi-legal is just the new development of our recently past decade. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I wish that were a new problem. It may have been recently ‘above the board’…but its been done and a part of life in these United States for decades. No Such Agency has been datamining, screening and scanning communications almost as long as most of us have been alive…making it quasi-legal is just the new development of our recently past decade. 

  • Mister-X!

    You guys do realize that DISINFO.COM is just a tool for government shadows agencies to locate dissidents and spread their own DISINFO… the irony….the Irony… Your all pawns on the chess board.

  • Mister-X!

    You guys do realize that DISINFO.COM is just a tool for government shadows agencies to locate dissidents and spread their own DISINFO… the irony….the Irony… Your all pawns on the chess board.

    • Simiantongue

      We know that already. But they probably didn’t know that we knew until you just said that. Thanks a lot. Now they know that we know they know too. Just great. I’m a rook by the way not a pawn. I can still only attack on the diagonal but I have better reach.

      • jackedu317

        attacking from the peripheral is always preferred to attacking from the front. damn it! now they know we know that too.   

    • jackedu317

       yeah, but they can do that remotely, by putting thoughts, sounds, and pictures in our heads, so what difference does it make?

    • Markov Cheney

      Seeing as how the article came from WIRED, I assume that you mean WIRED is a tool for the shadow agencies, right? Oh crap, I just got checkmated brb

    • Investinourftre

      UMMM, in this day most of our population is dissidents, the Government is trying hard to make some huge power moves because the American people caught on before they completed the rest of the Ponzi Scheme.

  • wow

    “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,”
    FINALLY !!

  • wow

    “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,”
    FINALLY !!

  • Simiantongue

    We know that already. But they probably didn’t know that we knew until you just said that. Thanks a lot. Now they know that we know they know too. Just great. I’m a rook by the way not a pawn. I can still only attack on the diagonal but I have better reach.

  • jackedu317

    attacking from the peripheral is always preferred to attacking from the front. damn it! now they know we know that too.   

  • jackedu317

     yeah, but they can do that remotely, by putting thoughts, sounds, and pictures in our heads, so what difference does it make?

  • Markov Cheney

    Seeing as how the article came from WIRED, I assume that you mean WIRED is a tool for the shadow agencies, right? Oh crap, I just got checkmated brb

  • Anonymous

    UMMM, in this day most of our population is dissidents, the Government is trying hard to make some huge power moves because the American people caught on before they completed the rest of the Ponzi Scheme.

  • Navysealteam7

    Keep your guns clean, locked and LOADED!! And if you don’t have any guns,.. GO BUY SOME! 3 for every household should be enough to keep uncle Sam sweating in his sleep at night

  • Navysealteam7

    Keep your guns clean, locked and LOADED!! And if you don’t have any guns,.. GO BUY SOME! 3 for every household should be enough to keep uncle Sam sweating in his sleep at night

  • Anonymous

    We already know (at least, anyone who’s been paying attention does) that they’re collecting every piece of digital information that goes through an AT&T hub and that they’ve been abusing the business-records provision to get all kind of information about everyday people whose only crime is belonging to an environmental group or being a professor. The only thing that’s surprising about this story is that there’s a representative who is concerned about it, or maybe he realized that the model is unsustainable and wants to distance himself from it before they finally push people over their last ledge.

  • quartz99

    We already know (at least, anyone who’s been paying attention does) that they’re collecting every piece of digital information that goes through an AT&T hub and that they’ve been abusing the business-records provision to get all kind of information about everyday people whose only crime is belonging to an environmental group or being a professor. The only thing that’s surprising about this story is that there’s a representative who is concerned about it, or maybe he realized that the model is unsustainable and wants to distance himself from it before they finally push people over their last ledge.

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