Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court created in the 1970s is “just anachronistic” because it was not designed for the “astounding reach that the court has gone to with respect to the Patriot Act.”
In an interview that aired Sunday on C-SPAN, Wyden explained that the Patriot Act granted the government “essentially limitless” power to “get medical records, financial records, records about firearms… the government’s authority’s limitless.”
Associated Press National Security Writer Lara Jakes noted that Wyden had said that the government also had the ability to track cell phones and wondered if that authority was granted in secret by the FISA Court.
Wyden replied that he was barred from discussing FISA Court decisions. And that, he said, was one reason that he was inclined to support reforms like declassifying the legal analyses behind the decisions.
“In many particulars, the FISA Court is just anachronistic,” he continued. “They’re using processes that simply don’t fit the times… When the FISA Act was passed in the ’70s, nobody envisioned, for example, some of the astounding reach that the court has gone to with respect to the Patriot Act and its definition of relevance.”
“For example, the statute talks about relevance, in nowhere does it even suggest that you can collect the phone records of millions and millions of law-abiding Americans.”
Wyden added that the FISA Court was the most “one-sided legal process in the United States” because it “doesn’t highlight anything except [the government’s] point of view.”
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast July 28, 2013.
(h/t: Washington Post)