During last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee about extending the most abusive powers of the Patriot Act, which has already been implicated in targeting Americans for surveillance even when that there was no reason to suspect them of involvement in terrorism, Senator Russ Feingold made a subtle reference to new, as-yet-untold Patriot Act abuses. Feingold hinted that there “is information about the use of Section 215 orders that I believe Congress and the American people deserve to know. It is unfortunate that we cannot discuss this information today. We must find a way to have an open and honest debate about the nature of these government powers, while still protecting national security secrets, and under current conditions that simply isn’t possible.”
What could Senator Feingold mean by this? Remember, Section 215 is the part of the Patriot Act that gives government spy agencies the power to grab massive amounts of information about Americans’ personal lives, from commercial, financial and medical databases, even when those databases are protected by privacy agreements.
Apparently, some aspect of the government’s Section 215 spying that remains classified has something very important to do with our constitutional rights – something Feingold has seen, and can’t talk about, but thinks that the American people would want to know.
Will we find out about these secret Section 215 spy abuses during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on the renewal of the Patriot Act? Stay tuned. The meeting is set to begin… “momentarily”…
…and Senator Leahy just started the meeting by referring to a “significant briefing” that committee members were given this morning.