There’s a secret Patriot Act, according to Senator Ron Wyden. In a Wired article, Wyden (D-Oregon), says that the U.S. government applies a far broader legal interpretation to the Patriot Act — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified.
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Co.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-NM) have introduced an amendment to the Patriot Act reauthorization legislation to require the U.S. Attorney General to make the U.S. Government’s official interpretation of the law public.
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
One component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.
DailyWireless wrote about the Office of Information Awareness back in July of 2002, when it was a more “open” program and before the Washington Post raised questions about it. Senator Wyden (D-Ore) eliminated funding for the TIA program — which then resurfaced as The Matrix, a national datamining program for domestic police agencies.
That program floundered when it was found to be selling private information on individuals to companies (like banks) for a profit.
Parts of the TIA/MATRIX program were apparently then incorporated into a similar program, called Thinthread which supposed had built in privacy protections for US citizens.
But the NSA pursued a more complex program called Trailblazer, intended to analyze data carried on communications networks like the internet, and track communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail. It ran over budget and failed to accomplish several goals and was reportedly shut down in 2006.
Thomas Drake, a former NSA employee, thought taxpayer money was being wasted on intelligence gathering projects like Trailblazer. He tried to get the word out, but, as a result, has been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. The government says he betrayed his country. Drake says the only thing he betrayed was NSA mismanagement that undermined national security.
Some might argue that SAIC’s trail of failed projects has left the country more vulnerable to attack. There may (or may not) be serious improprieties, but few politicians and prosecutors want to go through SAIC’s revolving door of military and political leaders.