The Secret Patriot Act
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says that the government applies a broad legal interpretation of certain provisions of the "P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act" and has classified that interpretation so that it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged.
- There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says, By Spencer Ackerman, Wired (May 25, 2011).
Wyden says he "can't answer" any specific questions about how the government thinks it can use the Patriot Act. That would risk revealing classified information -- something Wyden considers an abuse of government secrecy. He believes the techniques themselves should stay secret, but the rationale for using their legal use under Patriot ought to be disclosed.
- The Secret PATRIOT Act and the End of Limited Government in America, by E.D. Kain, Forbes (May 26, 2011).
Apologists for the PATRIOT Act have claimed that the innocent have nothing to fear from the government’s broadened powers.
At isssue is the so-called "business-records provision" of the Act (Section 215) which empowers the FBI to get businesses, including libraries, to turn over records it deems relevant to a security investigation.
Sen. Wyden Decries “Secret Law” on PATRIOT Act, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (May 25th, 2011)
"We can have honest and legitimate disagreements about exactly how broad intelligence collection authorities ought to be, and members of the public do not expect to know all of the details about how those authorities are used," Sen. Wyden said. "But I hope each Senator would agree that the law itself should not be kept secret and that the government should always be open and honest with the American people about what the law means."
But the Senate moved toward cloture on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act provisions and the Wyden amendment, which was co-sponsored by several Senate colleagues, was not permitted to be offered or to be voted upon.