WASHINGTON -- In the wake of revelations about the controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs, Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador took to the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday to call for a reexamination of the USA Patriot Act.
On the floor, Labrador laid out just a few examples of what he calls, "Violations of our civil liberties," including the NSA collecting telephone records, the IRS targeting conservative groups, and the Justice Department obtaining journalists' phone records. Labrador says this is partly because the USA Patriot Act, which he voted against reauthorizing, is written in such a sweeping way that it opens the door for these types of abuses. "This wholesale snooping on innocent Americans is an unacceptable violation of one of our most basic freedoms, the right to privacy and to be free from government surveillance, and one of many unintended but predictable consequences of the USA Patriot Act."
However, the director of the National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, took to Capitol Hill Wednesday to say that those surveillance programs work. He said that they have disrupted dozens of terrorist events.
And in a recent poll by the Pew Center, a 56 percent majority said they thought it was acceptable for the NSA to track calls to investigate terrorism. But 52 percent of those polled said the government should not monitor email to prevent possible terrorism.
Nevertheless, Labrador says he will lead his House colleagues in reexamining all sections of the Patriot Act. He says he joined several of his House colleagues last week in sending a letter to the FBI director and the NSA director requesting more information about their agencies' data collection activities.