Congress Should Extend PATRIOT Act Provisions to Keep Us Safe


The failure of President Obama and the U.S. Congress to preserve key counterterrorism authorities before they expired is an abdication of their responsibility to protect the United States.

Today we have lost the metadata program, authorized by Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, an important tool in helping law enforcement and the Intelligence Community connect the dots between known foreign terrorists and potential operatives in the United States.

Congress still has the opportunity to remedy this mistake and extend these important tools that have kept us safe. They should do so.

It is incredible that we would weaken our ability to protect the Homeland as ISIL, Al Shabbab, Al Qaeda, and other affiliated terrorist groups expand their reach.

Even President Obama, who spoke often about protecting civil liberties, supported these authorities as Senator and preserved the program when he came into office. Backing down in the face of liberal interest group pressure is just another failure of presidential leadership.

In 2013 new safeguards were put in place — including requiring the government to seek an individual court order every time it queried the database — but maintained the essential structure of a database of call records that can be searched in the event we have intelligence warnings of plots to the homeland.

That was the right call. Because in total, the PATRIOT Act has kept us safe, plain and simple.

Despite the fear-mongering of some, there is no evidence the bulk metadata program has ever been used to violate civil liberties.

The terrorist threat to the United States is growing. It is incredible that we would weaken our ability to protect the homeland as ISIL, Al Shabbab, Al Qaeda, and other affiliated terrorist groups expand their reach.