The lead author of the Patriot Act said on Tuesday that he will spearhead an effort to reject reauthorization of the law (which is set to expire next year) if the White House doesn't make some serious changes to Section 215 of the law, which has led to the NSA and other government agencies collecting and storing all kinds of information on American citizens.
In a session of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) said that the government’s muted response to the Snowden leaks and the bulk metadata collection authorized under Section 215 does not sit well with him. Speaking to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who was appearing before the committee, Sensenbrenner gave a stern warning.
"Section 215 expires in June of next year," Sensenbrenner said. "Unless Section 215 is fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will end up getting nothing because I am absolutely confident that there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize 215."
Sensenbrenner has been highly critical of the Intelligence community and the Obama Administration since the Snowden leaks: last year he filed an amicus brief in a pending lawsuit, ACLU v. Clapper, in which he wrote:
"The vast majority of the records collected will have no relation to the investigation of terrorism at all. This collection of millions of unrelated records is built-in to the mass call collection program. Defendants’ theory of 'relevance' is simply beyond any reasonable understanding of the word. And it certainly is not what amicus intended the word to mean."
In the Tuesday hearing, other committee members chimed in with their agreements, like Rep. John Conyers Jr.:
"Unless this committee acts and acts soon, I fear we will lose valuable counterterrorism tools along with the surveillance programs many of us find objectionable," Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI.) added.
Cole reiterated the White House’s position on the matter:
"This is a tool that gives us one of those pieces of information, the connections from one person to another," he said. "Although we continue to believe the program is lawful, we recognize that it has raised significant controversial and legitimate privacy concerns, and as I have said, we are working on developing a new approach as the president has directed."
Source: Ars Technica