Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:
WVTI · WOXM · WVBA · WVNK · WVTQ · WVTX
WVPR · WRVT · WOXR · WNCH · WVPA
WVPS · WVXR · WETK · WVTB · WVER
WVER-FM · WVLR-FM · WBTN-FM

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact hello@vermontpublic.org or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Leahy Wants Greater Privacy Protections In Patriot Act

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he regrets calling for the resignation of senator Al Franken before the Senate Ethics committee had a change to fully investigate the matter
Toby Talbot
/
AP/File
Sen. Patrick Leahy at a July news conference in Montpelier.

It was disclosed this week, that over the last few years, the Administration secretly obtained phone records of millions of people from Verizon by using an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Administration says the procedure is “a vital tool” in the war against terrorism.

Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee and has voted against extending the Patriot Act because of concerns about a lack of oversight protections in the law. Leahy says the new disclosure is a confirmation of his concerns.

“I really worry on looking into almost like a vacuum cleaner into what people calls they make,” said Leahy. “The privacy rights of Americans can be very fragile if you have powerful technologies that are applied in secrecy.”

Several senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee are defending the surveillance plan and argue that the practice has thwarted a number of terrorist attacks.

As chairman of the Judiciary committee, Leahy says he has also been briefed on these incidents. He says he can’t be specific about the terrorist attacks that have been blocked.

“What I will say is this we have caught terrorists but I worry that there’s too often a willingness to say we’ve got the technology let’s use it against everybody and that worries me,” said Leahy. “I think greater safeguards can be built in and still protect our security.”

Leahy says he hopes the phone record disclosure will encourage a majority of senators to support his new legislation that protects email privacy and places new limits on broad government surveillance.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
Latest Stories