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Senators accuse government of using 'secret law' to collect Americans' data

A bipartisan group of 26 US senators has written to intelligence chiefs to complain that the administration is relying on a "secret body of law" to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens.

The senators accuse officials of making misleading statements and demand that the director of national intelligence James Clapper answer a series of specific questions on the scale of domestic surveillance as well as the legal justification for it.

Their immediate issue is about how the Patriot Act in being interpreted. There have long been criticisms about its vague wording and sloppy construction. It certainly raises the possibility that it could be interpreted quite differently by different parties. With most laws such differences of interpretation get laid out on the table for public discussion and if necessary are sorted out either by the courts or by revised legislation. However, because of the secrecy in which the Patriot Act is being applied, such an open and constitutional process is not possible.

The letter has a list of several specific questions.

The Senators signing the letter are: Ron Wyden (D-Or), Mark Udall (D-Co), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), Mark Kirk (R-Il), Dick Durbin (D-Il), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jon Tester (D-Mt), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dean Heller (R- Nev),Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Patty Murray (D-Wash), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Al Franken (D-Minn), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chris Coons (D-Del), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Max Baucus (D-Mont), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).  

Originally posted to Richard Lyon on Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 10:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Koscadia, PDX Metro, Take New Hampshire Forward!, Colorado COmmunity, Police Accountability Group, and New Mexico Kossaks.

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