In a rare bipartisan effort to protect American civil liberties, two unlikely members of Congress have teamed up to repeal two of the most invasive laws in recent history.
Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii announced this week that she and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky have been working on a joint bill called the Protect Our Civil Liberties Act. The measure would effectively repeal the Patriot Act as well as the FISA Amendments Act.
The Patriot Act, which was originally passed just after 9/11, was a counter-terrorism bill that ultimately led to widespread, rampant spying on American citizens, permanently infringing on our inherent right to privacy.
In a video statement, Gabbard discussed how these laws have deeply violated our Constitutional rights and civil liberties.
“The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution very specifically prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures without warrant based on probable cause,” Gabbard said.
But through the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act, agencies within our government were enabled, “to conduct mass illegal surveillance on Americans without a warrant or probable cause” by obtaining millions of American citizens’ email and phone records.
Gabbard and Massie propose the solution to addressing these issues is “to 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.”
Gabbard explains the Protect Our Civil Liberties Act bill would accomplish six important goals:
- Repeal the Patriot Act which led to mass collection of Americans’ phone records.
- Repeal the FISA Amendments Act which allowed for mass surveillance of Americans’ emails.
- Make retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and terminate those who do retaliate.
- Ensure any collection of information on Americans is based on a warrant with probable cause.
- Prohibit government-mandated “backdoors” from being built into electronic devices or software that would allow the gov to bypass privacy safeguards.
- Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitors domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law on an annual basis.
Finally, someone in government seems to care about Americans’ right to privacy rather than exploiting it to make us think collecting all of our private information is “for our safety.”
The unfortunate truth is government officials jumped at the opportunity to use 9/11 as an excuse to eliminate any and all privacy U.S. citizens are supposed to be entitled to. Emails, phone records, and locations are no longer private in this age of information so long as laws like the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act exist.
Hopefully, this bill gains steam as American resistance continues to grow against the government’s grip on our lives.