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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Sanders, Welch Call For Big Changes To Patriot Act

Recently, it was revealed that the National Security Agency has compiled phone records of tens of millions of Americans as part of the effort to find links to terrorist operations.  The surveillance activities are legal under the renewal of the Patriot Act that was passed in 2011.

Senator Bernie Sanders says the Act gives the government too much authority and he wants the federal government to prove that the records of a specific individual deserve to be examined:

“So that the government has got to go to an independent body, a judge and say we have reason to believe this person is involved in terrorist activity then I want the government to be able to go after that person,” said Sanders. “But I do not want to see records of hundreds of millions of Americans assembled by the

I do not want to see records of hundreds of millions of Americans assembled by the United States government. Senator Bernie Sanders

United States government. I just think that’s not the right thing.”

Congressman Peter Welch is co-sponsoring a similar bill in the U.S. House.

“I think that it’s possible and essential that we balance our security interests with our privacy interests and it can be done,” said Welch.  “The Patriot Act needs tightening up because right now it basically does give pretty much carte blanche to the security officials to so what they want to do.”

Welch says he thinks it would be healthy for Congress to have an open and vigorous debate over the government’s authority to conduct surveillance activities on U.S. citizens and he hopes this discussion will happen in the coming weeks.

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."
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