Rep. Holt to introduce bill to repeal Patriot Act & 2008 FISA Act

UPDATE: I spent 20 minutes discussing this issue, including the upcoming Holt bill, on The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen, broadcast live on WNHN in New Hampshire and also available via podcast. I’ll post a link to the conversation as soon as it’s available, likely later today. Stay tuned.

(Audio here. This is an MP3 file, so you need Quicktime or a media player to hear it. Listen from the beginning; I’m the first guest. And thanks!)

While the rest of the country was celebrating our independence, House Dem. Rush Holt (NJ-12) was doing something about it — drafting legislation to repeal both the Patriot Act of 2001 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

If you click, be sure to check the legislative history. This was Obama’s first major betrayal of an important campaign promise, and he was just a candidate at the time — a foretaste of many betrayals to come.

Rush Holt, writing in the Asbury Park Press in his native New Jersey, says this (my emphasis and some paragraphing):

Once again, our nation is grappling with a false choice being presented to us by the media and intelligence officials: In order to be safe, we must be willing — in President Barack Obama’s words — to accept “modest encroachments” on our civil liberties. These claims are being advanced in the wake of the most sensational revelations about intrusive, and potentially illegal, government surveillance activities at home since the Watergate era. …

NSA-signAccording to press reports, we are subject to the collection of phone call metadata from every American. The harvesting of To, From and Bcc data from the emails of Americans. The blanket targeting of encrypted emails or encrypted “cloud storage” data repositories of Americans. The targeting of anyone using Tor (an online anonymization capability). These are just the revelations made to date by the Guardian and The Washington Post, among others. …

Soon, I will introduce legislation that would repeal the laws that brought us our current “surveillance state”: the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act. My bill would restore the probable cause-based warrant requirement for any surveillance against an American citizen being proposed on the basis of an alleged threat to the nation. And it would, for the first time, provide genuine legal protections for the Thomas Drakes of the world.

See the rest of the article for the reference to Thomas Drake. It’s well worth a read.

At the moment I’m still absorbing this, wondering what the next steps are. Co-sponsors and a Senate companion bill seem like a good way to proceed. I know there’s a hunger in the country for this nonsense to end, and there seems some hunger in Congress as well. My instinct is to build this resistance to the National (actually International) Spook State as big as it can get.

Thanks, Mr. Holt, for getting the ball rolling. We’re with you all the way.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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58 Responses to “Rep. Holt to introduce bill to repeal Patriot Act & 2008 FISA Act”

  1. geral sosbee says:

    Fine, now let’e repeal the fbi/cia charters.

    No more heinous cowards have been hatched and nourished by the USA than the clandestine assassins of fbi/cia…

    … no other action may stop the hoodlums of federal burro of investigation (fbi) and their cia companions in wholesale murder…

    … and by the atrocities committed by these two agencies the United States of America is now forever known as a BEAST (Brain EntrAinment STate), a country w/o conscience, a people w/o heart who are cursed with a national character predominantly w/o soul…

    Torture, forced suicide & murder:


    . .

  2. Joe says:

    Agreed. Technically, anybody who burns copies a CD/DVD on their home computer, removes a tag from a mattress, watches a YouTube movie clip, plays a VHS/DVD movie clip in front of a classroom as an educational tool without paying the studio a fee, or photocopying certain documents like sheets of music is breaking the law. In addition, the Patriot Act was amended in 2005 to limit the amount of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine a consumer can purchase-this is an ingredient needed to make crystal meth.

    Does that we need the NSA to monitor YouTube Traffic and/or review consumer transactions at Kinko’s or Office Max in order to put people behind bars for copyright infringement?
    What does stopping meth addicts in the USA have to do with preventing another 9/11 attack? Not in favor of crystal at all, but this shouldn’t have been lumped into a bill meant to stop international terrorism.

  3. JHoughton1 says:

    Homeland Security has become a huge industry, an economic constituency comprising tens and tens of thousands of jobs. It will not die easily, not in a country where money equals votes and corporations are according the Constitutional rights of people. Good luck, Mr. Holt, but I fear you are tilting at windmills.

  4. Sally Prescot says:

    Rand Paul is a non starter if he doesn’t support this. Just like Macro Rubio finished his career supporting amnesty. Republicans have a monopoly on stupid.

  5. Benjamin Franklin says:

    I’m a republican and I’ll vote for Rush Holt. Twice if possible.

  6. Benjamin Franklin says:

    This guy is a she in for Senate. Secret Police spies is an issue that crosses party lines.

  7. Kim_Kaufman says:

    I hope there’s a big GOTV effort being made in NJ for Rush Holt. Corey Booker in Senate would be a disaster. Especially for education and all financial and economic issues. Used to be “worse than Bush” was the worst, now “worse than Obama” is the low bar. And which describes Corey Booker Read some Glen Ford on Corey Booker if you want an idea of how bad he is.

  8. Bear009 says:

    I just emailed my state rep and urged him to publicly support rep. Holt. Please, everyone else should do the same, it only takes a couple of minutes.

  9. GaiusPublius says:

    Nice reminder. The primary is in the next few weeks. He’s up against Corey “Leave Bain Capital Alo-o-one” Booker. Pls, if you’re in NJ, spread the word. Booker’s a privatizer and Holt is a progressive, a real one.


  10. GaiusPublius says:

    Everyone has reach, Jim. Thanks for using yours!


  11. pixelneer says:

    We now know that Bush/Cheney implemented this program a full 7 months before 9/11 … 7 months! It did not prevent 9/11 so any 1 or 2 others that it has prevented in the last 12 years are pointless.

    Add to that, just what sort of idiot terrorists do you think use facebook? This isn’t Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner. We KNOW for a fact that Bin Laden, and the senior leadership of Al Queda NEVER used cell phones that weren’t ‘burners’ and rarely if ever were ‘online’ because THEY all know we are watching those channels.

  12. darib88 says:

    could prob get the money if we’d stop building things like 35 million dollar army bases in afghanistan that NO ONE WILL EVER USE. I say we pull up stakes globally and funnel all that foreign military aid money into american recovery money , it’s way past time we took care of home and stopped fiddling in other ppls business.It’s expensive and has made us very few friends

  13. Naja pallida says:

    Even if we zeroed out the Department of Homeland Security budget, as well as the NSA budget, and reallocated all of that money directly to infrastructure spending, we’d still only have about half the amount we’d need to bring things just to an acceptable level. That’s not even considering our drastic need for improvements and expansion to address future requirements that are looming over us a lot faster than our government’s ability to act.

  14. htfd says:

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I would feel a lot safer if the bridges that were in poor shape were repaired, the antiquated nuclear power plants were closed, the FDA would regulate the food as they are suppose to and the EPA regulated the air quality ect. rather than spy on the populous.

  15. Jim says:

    Just called my rep Nancy Pelosi and asked her to cosponsor this. Also added that I am very disappointed that it wasn’t Pelosi who introduced this.

    If you’re in SF, please call Pelosi’s SF office and do the same 415 556 4862.

    The staff are very polite, so best to be as courteous, but as firm, as possible.

    Every time Elizabeth Warren or Alan Grayson do something progressive, I call Pelosi and bring it to their attention. Usually say, “Please ask Ms Pelosi to spend more time with Warren/Grayson, so she could learn about what it is to be a Progressive.” I get a polite thank, to which I give a polite, you’re welcome.

  16. HolyMoly says:

    To reiterate what I said, the government has been using the “state secrets” privilege on an unprecedented scale as of late to ensure that no legal challenge to the obvious unconstitutionality of their law has its day in court.

    To turn the phrase back on the government, if they have nothing to hide, then why are they so against that happening?

    By their own actions they know that what they’re doing is illegal. Any basic understanding of the Constitution shows that what they’re doing is illegal.

    I don’t have the AUTHORITY to decide legality, if that’s what you mean. But most of us are intelligent enough to compare the two (the law & the Constitution) and know that they don’t agree.

    Should I have sat back and let the authorities deal with segregation, since I wasn’t a Supreme Court justice? If that were the case, we’d still have separate water fountains. You can bet on that.

  17. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t think it would have to have even gone as far as stopping a terrorist. If it had done absolutely anything useful that they could tie to “national security” they’d be bragging about it non-stop. The vague “yeah, it’s important” wording tells us very clearly that it hasn’t succeeded in being useful yet, but they’re absolutely certain that some day, somehow, it will. They just have to magically connect the dots, and get the information to the right people in time… after wading through a million tons of DHS red tape.

  18. Naja pallida says:

    Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools
    Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001… someone in Congress wet his pants with glee the day he came up with that acronym.

  19. BeccaM says:

    The angle I take is to remind people of human nature, and how unaccountable power and authority is always abused.

    There are the Peeping Toms who derive pleasure from watching others, especially in compromising situations. And their slightly less malign cousins — like those NSA employees who were getting their jollies by listening in on ‘pillow-talk’ conversations between Americans serving overseas and their spouses and lovers back home.

    There are people with personal axes to grind and who give in to the temptation to do something about it. An analyst angry with a neighbor…who then decides to pull bank and IRS records to see how it is the neighbor was able to afford such that huge annoying boat in the driveway. Or someone who decides to go sniffing around in their ex-spouse’s records, looking for dirt to use in the divorce settlement.

    There are the corrupt partisans who will want to spy on political enemies, claiming it’s justified as a national security issue. Think it won’t happen? It already did, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others.

  20. nicho says:

    And we should know where all the laundered drug money is going. We should know who is profiting from sexual slavery. And we should be able to identify, arrest, and prosecute the people who plotted to destroy the economy.

  21. karmanot says:


  22. nicho says:

    There was an interesting article the other day contending that the average person commits at least three felonies a day — without realizing it. Federal law is so complex.

    My sister tried the “nothing to hide” crap with me. She plays scratcher tickets a lot and wins a lot — $200 here, $400 there, etc. I asked her if she declares that on her taxes. “Of course not.” So I informed her that she was guilty of multiple counts of evading taxes, perjury, and mail fraud. If someone really wanted to take her down, they could have her behind bars for a long time. All they have to do is squeeze the guy at the local convenience store, who would testify that she has won multiple times.

  23. GaiusPublius says:

    Sorry, Fatal. That one was deliberate, though I take your point.


  24. nicho says:

    Yeah, whatever

  25. Most of the public is too much: “I have nothing to hide.” We’re far too long away from the Warren Court, which upheld our rights. It’s time we do start to push aside the corporate state and push for changes in the law, to at least before Schrub stole the presidency. I’d like to go back to 1968 myself and repeal Nixonian law and order myself.

  26. FatalException says:

    If you’re taking corrections, it isn’t the Patriot Act. It’s the USAPATRIOT Act.

    De-capitalizing the bacronym just plays into the hands of its proponents, who depend on lazy journalism to deceive people into thinking supporting the bill is patriotic.

  27. BlueTrooth says:

    That must explain your participation in the charade on the internet? Shh…it’s the epicenter of the corporate dictatorship, but don’t tell anyone, okay?

  28. BlueTrooth says:

    Pissin in a pot is so “courageous”…interesting campaign tactic though.

  29. Indigo says:

    It remains for the courts to decide legality. If you’re one of the Supreme Court Justices, get busy. Otherwise, hold on while the process continues.

  30. Reasor says:

    If warrantless domestic surveillallance had ever, EVER, stopped a terrorist, you can be sure that you would never hear the end of it. The White House would have made damn sure you learned the names of the dangerous terrorists, whose existence justified the surveillance.

  31. HolyMoly says:

    It is true that Facebook has become the venue for publicly airing all sorts of personal information. Way too many people reveal far too much about themselves. Maybe they feel that everything they do from going to the amusement park to evacuating their bowels is somehow important. I have (young) family members who reveal way too much about themselves, and it bothers me to no end. From the perspective of manners, too many personal revelations have led society into becoming less “polite.” I was raised, for example, never to ask personal questions, like “How much money do you make?” “How much did your car cost?” “What is your religion?” etc. It’s equally impolite to give out that sort of information when there’s no valid reason to do so.

    But, the thing is, those disclosures are entirely VOLUNTARY. If you want to keep something private, don’t post it on social media sites for the whole world to see.

    There’s a difference, though, when the government decides to take personal information from us without our consent. They (are supposed to) need probable cause, they’re supposed to go before a judge presenting their evidence of probable cause — under oath — and state where/what they intend to search and what they intend to find. In other words, they need to apply for a warrant for a single targeted individual or organization, and better have a damn good reason other than “there might be something.” These blanket “warrants” are bogus in my opinion because there’s no way probable cause can be established for each and every individual who is caught up in the surveillance.

    The 4th Amendment does make it difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs, but the Founders made it that way by design. Not to protect the criminals, but to protect the 99.9999% of law abiding citizens from being wrongfully harassed, searched, interrogated, detained, tried, and convicted for crimes they did not commit. Like the saying goes, it’s better to let 1,000 criminals slip through the cracks than for one innocent person to go to jail (or the death chamber).

  32. GaiusPublius says:

    Always grateful for corrections. Thanks, Whitewitch !


  33. HolyMoly says:

    I agree that the Patriot Act needs to be abolished, but I disagree that it’s legal. Anything that is in violation of the Constitution is illegal, whether Congress passes it as a “law” or not. You can’t legislate away the Constitution. That’s where legal challenges are supposed to come into play.

    But the government has gamed the system, using the “state secrets” privilege to prevent any legal challenge to the Patriot Act from ever seeing the inside of a courtroom (thanks in large part to submissive judges — political appointees all).

  34. KingCranky says:

    The warrantless spying also didn’t prevent the massacres at Virginia Tech and the Aurora movie theater, both rampaging gunmen had online presences, and in the case of James Holmes, online purchases of firearms, massive amounts of ammunition and body armor.

    Also didn’t stop Jared Loughner’s massacre and attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, even though there were a tremendous amount of psychological red flags for anyone to see.

  35. nicho says:

    The corporatists will never allow it to be repealed. It works too much to their benefit. Just as they will never allow Citizens United to be overturned. While many people are still in a state of denial about it, we are living in a corporate dictatorship. Anything you see resembling democracy is just the involuntary jerking of the corpse.

  36. S in PA says:

    I just want to let you guys know that Rush Holt is running for the open senate seat in New Jersey. The special election is going to be held in October. Vote for him if you’re registered in NJ!

  37. Badgerite says:

    Good luck with trying to get that through Congress. I’m guessing it does not even come up for a vote and I’m guessing Rand Paul will not support it. But, you know, Obama the betrayer, etc……

  38. Whitewitch says:

    Well done Nicho!!! Thank you.

  39. Whitewitch says:

    That is if “you don’t have anything to hide”. Today you have nothing to hide, however what about tomorrow. And what happened to “Innocent until proven guilty”. Today it is “presumed guilty and we are watching you!”

    When a country needs to fear its own citizens it is time to look at the country and what it is doing wrong. The citizens of America are not wrong – because we disagree and when our country supports others in revolution – they need to be aware that if they step too far from what the people want here they are going to experience the same.

  40. Whitewitch says:

    I would like the nonsense to end. I am not hopeful however. Thanks for the update – maybe there will be a change.

    (Hi Gaius – typo in second paragraph should be betrayal – I think)

  41. HolyMoly says:

    Edit: first paragraph after first quote has a little cut-and-paste accident.

  42. cole3244 says:

    it will be very telling to see the vote on this bill.

  43. nicho says:

    Yeah, and even 10 years of spying on citizens and direct warnings from Russia, the bright lights at the NSA couldn’t stop the Marathon bombings.

  44. HolyMoly says:

    You said, “If we would have had the NSA prior to 9/11 then 9/11 probably would not have occurred.”

    Horse pucky! First of all, the NSA has existed since 1952. Second, the NSA’s founding charter does not allow it to operate in the U.S. or against U.S. Do we really know how many times terrorist intentions have been halted due to monitoring phone calls, Facebook, emails, and other social media?citizens. Included among the board members are representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and CIA. The NSA is pretty much the intelligence arm of the military, and the military is prohibited from operating within the U.S.

    From the NSA charter, 10/24/1952, signed by Truman (emphasis mine):

    “The COMINT mission of the National Security Agency (NSA) shall be to provide an effective, unified organization and control of the communications intelligence activities of the United States conducted AGAINST FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS, to provide for integrated operational policies and procedures PERTAINING THERETO [“thereto” meaning “foreign governments”; no authorization is given for domestic operations]….”

    In other words, they are operating (1) against their own charter and (2) based on their existence as an intelligence arm of the military and CIA, they are prohibited to do so.

    You said, “Do we really know how many times terrorist intentions have been halted due to monitoring phone calls, Facebook, emails, and other social media?”

    Most if not all of the “terrorist intentions” that have been “halted” were actually terrorist operations CREATED by the FBI. They found disillusioned Muslim youths, pushed him over to the dark side, gave him a mission, and provided him with the materials. Then they swooped in and arrested him, claiming that they stopped a terrorist plot (which would not have existed without the FBI’s own coaxing, planning, and supplying). Then the FBI can flex their muscles in front of the cameras like the heroes they want us to think they are. All of which is intended to give us the false impression that we need to have our rights curtailed and submit to domestic surveillance to “keep us safe.”

    You said, “With the NSA, 9/11 could have been avoided entirely.”

    Again, we DID have the NSA at the time. But that doesn’t matter, since they aren’t supposed to operate in the U.S. anyway. The FBI has an intelligence arm. Not to mention, 9/11 could have been avoided entirely if Bush had paid a little bit of heed to the intelligence directive he received while on vacation entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” which was FOREIGN-SOURCED intelligence gathered by the CIA. Surveilling grandma discussing biopsy results on her polyps with her doctor on the phone wouldn’t have done jack to stop it. Remember, the planning and organization of 9/11 occurred OUTSIDE the U.S.

    You said, “If we are going to be a nation that is safe then we have to give a little to receive a lot. I have no problem with the U.S. Government spying on me. Especially if it is going to prevent another 9/11.”

    You are just another example of one who has drank the Kool-Aid. You have succumbed to the fear propaganda that has been fed to you daily by the government-obeisant corporate media. Taking away our rights or “minor encroachments” as Obama says, will do NOTHING to ensure our safety. Most of our rights as given in the Bill of Rights “shall not be abridged” which, if you look up the word, means “shall not be LIMITED.” Period. So “minor encroachments” are illegal.

    To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “Those who are willing to give up their freedoms in exchange for safety deserve neither.”

  45. jomicur says:

    There’s also the fact that, as we know perfectly well at this point, the people who own this country and their stooges in Washington will do what they want to anyway, the law be damned, and the will of the people certainly be damned. We learned that vividly during Iran-Contra; we learned it again during the 2000 election; we are learning it still again re the NSA, thanks to Ed Snowden. Our government–the public one–is a medicine show designed to convince the gullible that we live in a democracy, that we are “safe” and that “this is the greatest country in the world.” How many times must we have evidence to the contrary thrown in our faces before the truth finally sinks in?

  46. Monoceros Forth says:

    Rush, still rocking after more than four decades. Oh, wait, wrong Rush…

  47. keirmeister says:

    Holt is my representative, and I LOVE him! Go get ’em, Rush!

  48. samizdat says:

    I am reminded of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words at the height of the Depression:

    “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself”

    And then I read a simpering and unpersuasive argument by a lick-spittle such as yourself, and I no longer wonder why our country has descended into a plutocratic security state which does nothing more than enrich and protect the corporate supranationals and wealthy elite who have absconded with our government.

    Your either a shill, or worse, a pathetic wimp.

  49. Monoceros Forth says:

    Do we really know how many times terrorist intentions have been halted
    due to monitoring phone calls, Facebook, emails, and other social media?

    Those frightful intentions! Thank God the Department of Homeland Security is keeping me safe from intentions.

    Especially if it is going to prevent another 9/11.

    What other unreasoning fears do you have?

  50. nicho says:

    What nonsense. We were warned repeatedly about 9-11 and for some reason chose to ignore those warnings. More surveillance wouldn’t have helped. Since then, any “terrorist plot” that has been “prevented” has turned out to be an FBI sting. If you really believe the claptrap you write, you are hopelessly naive.

  51. Jimmy says:

    The NSA has existed in one form or another since 1949, and it was very much in existence and spying in 2011. The issue was how the various agencies never spoke to each and never shared information.

  52. Indigo says:

    We can say it’s illegal but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the law. It has to be abolished, whether on moral grounds or international law, but as long as it sits on the books, it’s as legal inside our United States as police procedures require.

  53. Indigo says:

    We’re not giving “a little.” We’re giving away the store.

  54. Indigo says:

    The Patriot Act and its accompanying empowering legislation has to be challenged, overturned if possible. What I fear is that, although the ceremony of challenge to the PA will likely play itself out to the end, the effect will be a legislative affirmation of the PA and a further tightening of the surveillance techniques now in the development stage. This is a good time to remind ourselves how important it is to work to dismantle the Patriot Act and sweep away the veil of legalism that protects the surveillance and repression tools our government is now using to suppress our freedoms.

    Many thinkers generate many reasons why this has to be stopped but let me add one for our own national long-range well being. In the 1930s the German legislators freely passed the legislation needed for the Reich’s Chancellor to go ahead with his pogrom to exterminate European Judaism and it was completely legal. We are in danger of repeating that horrifying mistake the Germans made. Let’s not draw down onto our own heads a global response that will inevitably ruin us. Apocalyptic? Perhaps. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’ll just take several decades before the ruins of our future are photo ops for mid-century European tourists.

  55. Phil says:

    I don’t know that I agree. Do we really know how many times terrorist intentions have been halted due to monitoring phone calls, Facebook, emails, and other social media? I know of 3 or 4 instances, how many more are there? 10?, 100?, 1000? We, the public, really don’t know. What we do know is that spying on other countries has always been the job of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Spying on our own people has always been the job of the National Security Agency (NSA). There is and never has been any secret about this and anyone that didn’t know is rather naïve. So, if we are going to stop terrorist activity and don’t have anything to hide, I am all for spying on our own.
    If we would have had the NSA prior to 9/11 then 9/11 probably would not have occurred. I mean they were in the United States taking flying lessons. They were using cell phones and the internet as a means of communications. With the NSA, 9/11 could have been avoided entirely. I think that people should take a moment and think about their feelings when they saw the first plane hit the twin towers and then the second plane. The feelings of outrage, sorrow, and the pain in their hearts for the families and friends affected.
    If we are going to be a nation that is safe then we have to give a little to receive a lot. I have no problem with the U.S. Government spying on me. Especially if it is going to prevent another 9/11.

  56. FLL says:

    There was never anything patriotic about the Patriot Act. It’s the legal (or rather illegal) foundation for the growth of the surveillance state. The sooner the Patriot Act gets tossed out by Congress (or ruled unconstitutional by the federal judiciary) the better.

  57. Sally says:

    I agree with Mr/ Holt’s intentions, but since every country in the world is doing the same things, and since Americans still think Facebook is ‘fun’ and not destroying their privacy, I don’t hold out much hope for this Pandora’s Box to be closed.

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