Target: U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner
Goal: Commend Sensenbrenner for seeking to revise legislation that has allowed the government to secretly monitor Americans’ phone data and digital communications
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, author of the 2001 law that has been used to spy on Americans, has said he will take action to limit the government’s use of the law for surveilling civilians. Commend Sensenbrenner for speaking out against the abuse of the law and encourage him to pass legislation limiting its use.
Recently, the Guardian reported that the FBI applied for a secret court order to collect the phone records of every Verizon customer, and that the National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring digital communications within the U.S. This data is being collected under a “business” provision of the Patriot Act, a 2001 law that was intended to counteract terrorism by extending the intelligence gathering ability of the U.S. government under certain conditions. Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act, has said that the law was never intended to be used to spy on innocent American civilians, but as recent disclosures have shown, this is exactly what has occurred. The FBI and NSA have used the law to justify gross infringements into Americans’ private phone records and digital communications, including emails and instant messages.
The Patriot Act was written and passed in the heat of the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and thus has its weaknesses. Though Sensenbrenner at first denied that the Act would encourage government overreaches into the privacy of innocent civilians, he has since admitted that the law has been abused. The Patriot Act has been used by the FBI and the NSA to mine data at the expense of the liberty of American citizens.
In a statement, Sensenbrenner said that “seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.” Sensenbrenner has said he will work to revise the law and prevent further overreaches by the government into the privacy of innocent civilians. Commend Sensenbrenner for speaking out against abuses of the Patriot Act he authored, and urge him to take action in the legislative arena.
Dear Rep. Sensenbrenner,
Thank you for recognizing that the government’s abuse of the Patriot Act requires immediate action. As recent overreaches into citizens’ privacy have shown, the Patriot Act is being used to by the FBI and the National Security Agency for uses far beyond the law’s original intention. The FBI and NSA have used this law to spy on private communications of innocent Americans, ranging from phone call metadata to emails, and this absolutely cannot continue.
Though you did your best to ensure that security and liberty were balanced when the Patriot Act was passed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the ambiguities of the law have left the liberties of Americans at risk. Please take action immediately to revise the Patriot Act and reduce the ability of the government to infringe on the liberty of American citizens, which should include the right to private communications.
[Your Name Here]
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