Guinta: PATRIOT Act reform, special prosecutor needed

(The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the New Hampshire Journal. The Journal welcomes opinions on all sides of issues and from all candidates for office.)

By FRANK GUINTA

 

In 2013, it was revealed that the Obama Administration had been systematically abusing our civil liberties. The Administration had put in place an extensive surveillance state that was never debated in Congress, never voted on and never authorized.

 

These abuses need to be stopped, the system needs to be reformed, and we need to make sure this never happens again.

 

The next Congress will vote on a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. As your next Congressman, I will not support this legislation absent significant reform that explicitly bans this behavior, and only after careful deliberations with your input.

 

President Obama has spent a considerable amount of time during his Presidency repeating two phrases, “the buck stops with me” and “I learned about it in the newspaper.”

 

The President can’t have it both ways.

 

Given the double speak, and severity of the wrongs, it is long past time for a Special Prosecutor to find out what the President knew, and when he knew it. The American public and our allies deserve an explanation.

 

Take a look at my record on privacy issues, and my plan for future reforms:

 

As a Member of Congress:

 

• Came out early in strong opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was too vaguely worded and invited abuse.

 

• Voted to prohibit the federal government from using information on gun sales, tax, library, book, educational and medical records.

 

• Voted to limit the National Security Agency’s authority.

 

• Voted to ensure the American public would be able to obtain information about the actions of our government in this realm through a FOIA.

 

I support efforts to further reform the PATRIOT Act and the NSA:

 

• I support ending the bulk collection of American phone records and storage of U.S. citizen’s data.

 

• I support increasing transparency by requiring the government to make frequent public reports with respect to the FISA Court.

 

• I support giving the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority. This would give the Board the authority it needs to investigate privacy and national security issues.

 

• The three most controversial provisions within the PATRIOT Act (Sections 206, 215, and 6001) need to be amended to provide greater clarity so as not to be used as a blanket authorization to spy.

 
I take seriously the dual responsibilities of providing for the common defense while preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution. President Obama has upset this careful balance and I look forward to working with you to rectify this egregious error.

 
I hope to earn your support on September 9.

 

(Frank Guinta is a candidate for the U.S. House from the 1st District. He served in that seat in 2011 and 2012 and is a former Mayor of Manchester. He can be reached at teamguinta.com.)

 

Author: Frank Guinta

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