Barack Obama’s Broken Promise on the Patriot Act, With Effects that Linger On
Revise the PATRIOT Act. Barack Obama believes that we must provide law enforcement the tools it needs to investigate, disrupt, and capture terrorists, but he also believes we need real oversight to avoid jeopardizing the rights and ideals of all Americans. There is no reason we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties. Unfortunately, the current administration has abused the powers given to it by the PATRIOT Act. A March 2007 Justice Department audit found the FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the PATRIOT Act to secretly obtain personal information about American citizens. As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.
President Barack Obama, October 2009: writes and sends amendments to Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee that successfully remove civil liberties protections from a bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act.
President Barack Obama, February 27 2010: signs a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act into law without revision.
No, this isn’t news breaking today. But it isn’t ancient history either. Barack Obama broke his core campaign promise on the Patriot Act this year, a broken promise that has lingering effects. There have been no negative consequences for his broken promise, and that is a sadly continuing story.