I had sent a letter to the Congressman urging him to support the sunset clauses of the Patriot act, allowing those provisions to expire. Here is his response.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the PATRIOT Act. I appreciate hearing of your views.
On February 28, 2011 three core provisions of the PATRIOT Act would have expired—roving wiretaps where multiple phones are used, the so-called business records provision, and the lone wolf provision concerning terrorists not connected with a specific country or group. I would point out that I authored the original sunset provision in the House version of the Act because it is my belief that Congressional oversight and review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is a solemn responsibility.
The primary responsibility of government is to protect the American people from attack. The Times Square bomber, Christmas Day bomber, and Fort Hood shooter are further evidence that there are those who remain committed to killing innocent Americans. The PATRIOT Act provisions are essential to reaching those actors who are agents of a foreign power or foreign terrorist organization who would use the open nature of our society to plot against innocents within our country. Our intelligence community must be given the same tools which law enforcement has had for years in order to stop terrorist plots before they are allowed to develop. Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the Rand Corporation puts it well:
In the terror attacks since 9-11 we have seen combinations of local conspiracies inspired by, assisted by, and guided by al Qaeda's central leadership...It is essential that while protecting the basic rights of American citizens, we find ways to facilitate the collection and exchange of intelligence across national and bureaucratic borders.
It is my view that while Congressional oversight of the PATRIOT Act should be vigorous and regular. In a hearing on the three provisions set to expire, there was no evidence of abuse. In fact, the only evidence of a problem arose from a General Accountability Office Report concerning National Security Letters (NSL's) on one occasion. Ironically, NSL's did not originate with the PATRIOT Act and have no bearing on any of the expiring provisions under consideration.
In light of the fact that the threat against our people continues, the Obama Administration was right to ask for reauthorization of the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Although we must be diligent to ensure that the civil liberties of Americans are secure, the first such liberty is not to be killed. "The choice between security and liberty is a false choice, as nothing is more likely to endanger America's liberties than the success of a terrorist attack at home."
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views with me.
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I look forward to discussing this or any other issue affecting our 3rd Congressional District with you in the future. For upcoming Town Hall meetings, or for information on issues or legislation pending before Congress, please visit my website at www.lungren.house.gov. If you need assistance with a federal agency, please call my Gold River office at (916) 859-9906. My staff and I are always available to address your concerns, answer your questions, and listen to your ideas.
Daniel E. Lungren
Member of Congress
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