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Independent Bernie Sanders On Wiretapping: "Nothing Unusual"

by Alex Gauthier, published

Speaking on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) offered his view on warrantless wiretapping:

"It turns out that what the Obama administration was doing to the AP is nothing unusual. This appears to be exactly what the government has the capability to do to every single American. Furthermore, we have also recently learned that the government has the capability to monitor every website that we visit, every video that we see, and every item that we search for online."

Senator Sanders elaborated by citing Republican Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), one of the co-authors of the Patriot Act. In a letter to the president last week, Rep. Sensenbrenner said:

"As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extrememly disturbed by what appears to be an overbroad interpretation of the Act. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) applied for a top secret court order to collect the phone records of virtually every call that has been made by millions of Verizon customers. These reports are deeply concerning and raise questions about whether our constitutional rights are secure."

First instituted in 2001, the practice of warrantless wiretapping began through the Patriot Act, but was ended in 2007. Shortly before leaving office in 2008, George Bush signed H.R. 6304 into law.

Also called the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (R-Texas) granted the government surveillance immunity from warrants for up to one week provided the FISA court was notified.

Sen. Sanders' insight describes the surveillance industry's comfort with eschewing privacy protections. For agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI, collecting data without a warrant is nothing new. Even further they have been legally insulated to do so.

Sanders also quoted the Fourth Amendment, "and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

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