Patriot Act author slams colleagues for 'fear mongering'

The original author of the Patriot Act is slamming his colleagues in Congress for fear mongering.

"The tragedy and acts of terrorism recently perpetrated in Paris, France, have inspired impassioned responses to our nation's problems," Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said in a statement on Tuesday. "However, these horrific actions are no excuse for the knee-jerk reactions, political platitudes, and fear mongering we've been experiencing from some of my colleagues in its aftermath."

Sensenbrenner took aim at a proposal from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to extend the National Security Agency's bulk metadata collection program authorized under the Patriot Act. Cotton has proposed legislation to extend the program beyond the Nov. 29 expiration imposed by the USA Freedom Act, which passed Congress in June.

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"The USA FREEDOM Act was carefully crafted to protect constitutional rights without risking national security. It was passed with the support of the NSA. Any claim that USA FREEDOM hindered the NSA is fear-mongering plain and simple. In fact, the bill's changes were phased in over a six-month grace period and haven't even taken effect yet," Sensenbrenner said. "This attack happened despite the government's bulk collection of innocent Americans' phone data. Once again, bulk collection is not the answer."

The NSA assumed the authority to engage in bulk collection of telephonic metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The program existed for nearly a decade before it was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. The USA Freedom Act will consign authority for the collection to private companies, and federal agencies will collect the data from those companies only when they had a legitimate need.

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