But a bipartisan sense of outrage is growing, fueled by weekly revelations of misconduct by the NSA and other agencies. One recent release of documents showed that, for years, the government’s collection of domestic email was, in the words of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, “deficient on statutory and constitutional grounds.” Another revealed that the NSA was substantially out of compliance with its court orders for the first three years of its telephone metadata program, and materially misled the court during that time.
Other reports have described the NSA’s efforts to infiltrate technology companies and weaken the protocols that protect private communications on the Internet. It’s one thing for an intelligence agency to break encryption on other computer systems — it’s quite another for the government to actively sabotage commercial products to make it easier for outsiders to eavesdrop.
When the original Patriot Act passed in 2001, 66 House members voted against it. In the wake of reports concerning abuse of National Security Letter power, opposition to the act’s reauthorization grew to 138 in 2006 and 144 in 2011. Last July, a full 205 members were unwilling to support the Section 215 metadata program.
I believe the foundation has been laid to reclaim our citizens’ rights, and it’s principled, bipartisan and growing.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.