Watch as Russ Feingold warns in 2001 what could happen as a result of the Patriot Act

In light of this week’s news that the U.S. government has been engaging in a massive domestic spying program of U.S. citizens’ phone and internet activities, I felt it was a good idea to take a trip in the Blogging Blue “wayback machine” to 2001.

See, back in 2001 then-U.S. Senator Russ Feingold was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the Patriot Act, and in the speech he gave explaining his opposition to the Patriot Act, he foresaw precisely the kind of situation we’re faced with right now.

Here’s an excerpt from Sen. Feingold’s speech.

One provision that troubles me a great deal is a provision that permits the government under FISA to compel the production of records from any business regarding any person, if that information is sought in connection with an investigation of terrorism or espionage.

Now we’re not talking here about travel records pertaining to a terrorist suspect, which we all can see can be highly relevant to an investigation of a terrorist plot. FISA already gives the FBI the power to get airline, train, hotel, car rental and other records of a suspect.

But under this bill, the government can compel the disclosure of the personal records of anyone — perhaps someone who worked with, or lived next door to, or went to school with, or sat on an airplane with, or has been seen in the company of, or whose phone number was called by — the target of the investigation.

And under this new provisions all business records can be compelled, including those containing sensitive personal information like medical records from hospitals or doctors, or educational records, or records of what books someone has taken out of the library. This is an enormous expansion of authority, under a law that provides only minimal judicial supervision.


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