6-27-13 CCN Letters to the Editor

Integrity of Fourth Amendment is at stake

 To the editor:

I must address and correct comments made by Sean Olsen in the June 20 Carver County News. By claiming “bipartisanship failure,” Olsen attempts to re-write history by spreading blame and ignoring real solutions. The problems we are discussing today are exactly what the Patriot Act attempted to prevent.

The chief author of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner-R(WI), has spoken out extensively since Edward Snowden made his revelations. After 9/11, it was important for the Country to upgrade its intelligence gathering capability and focus efforts at identifying and preventing terrorist attacks.

Sensenbrenner, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, knew they had to balance the detection of terrorist activities while safeguarding the Bill of Rights. The focus of the Patriot Act is to allow the intelligence community the ability to monitor, identify and interdict foreign and domestic agents working to create a terroristic event. It was never the intent of the Patriot Act, writes  Sensenbrenner, to gather all telephonic and internet data from all Americans.

By blaming Bush, Olsen confirms his partisanship by refusing to consider that the Obama administration may have over stepped their legal authority.

His Congressional vote tally is a lame attempt at blaming Republicans. Olsen further ignores my comments on the IRS, EPA and DOJ scandals. In short, he ignores any attempt at solutions and is more interested in scoring political points.

In his June 7th press conference, the President said that the collection of phone calls and digital records were two programs authorized by Congress. Sensenbrenner strongly disagrees saying that it was never the purpose of the original or the re-authorized Patriot Act (2006) to create one gigantic fishing expedition with data from American citizens. The President went on to say that Congress was briefed on these actions and should have known what was going on. Sensenbrenner counters by stating he was never briefed and these policy changes were never authorized. Oh, and I was never briefed either, Mr. Olsen.

Recent testimony speaks of successful terrorist interdiction as being able to find a “needle in a haystack.” The intelligence analysts say they need the entire “haystack” — all of our communication data. I say no! Access should only be granted after developing reasonable suspicion and by obtaining an administrative search warrant. If the new data confirms “probable cause,” a second search warrant would allow access to actual communications. Congress must create additional oversight beyond the secretive FISA Court as we now know they are a rubber stamp.

This renewed effort must create a judicial firewall that protects innocent citizens yet allows access to vital data in a timely manner.

It is obvious that many in Congress had no idea what liberties were being granted by the FISA Court. I have no doubt additional startling revelations will come forward. The temptation is too great — no matter who occupies the White House. The integrity of the 4th Amendment must be preserved for the American citizen while allowing our intelligence experts to do their job.

Finally, at the end, my new pen pal tries to hit a conciliatory tone. I would find it difficult to work with someone whose loyalties to the DFL party and President trump that of the Bill of Rights and my fellow citizens. Mr. Olsen, you can put your lifeless old “olive branch” back in storage. It ain’t working.

Joe Polunc