Judge Andrew Napolitano: Mass Surveillance Will Continue Even Without PATRIOT Act Section 215

by | May 28, 2015

Privacy advocates looking forward to an end of the Unites States government’s mass surveillance program due to the looming sunset of PATRIOT Act section 215 may do well to shelve their Champagne bottles. Judge Andrew Napolitano, in a Fox News interview on Wednesday, presented his grim assessment that the US National Security Agency (NSA) snooping would continue even absent the section 215 authority.

Napolitano, a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, says in the interview that the US government is lying to the American people with the claim that the mass surveillance would be suspended upon the expiration of the PATRIOT Act provision used to justify the mass surveillance program. Instead, Napolitano explains the snooping will continue reliant on two other legal justifications. Napolitano states:

There are two other provisions in the law that the NSA relies on which will cause it to continue to spy on Americans even if section 215 of the PATRIOT Act does expire. One of those is a section of the FISA law called section 702, and one of them is a still-existing executive order signed by President George W. Bush in the fall or 2001, which has not been tinkered with, interfered with, or rescinded.

Watch here Napolitano’s full explanation as well as a passionate concluding commentary by show host Shepard Smith:

Meanwhile, the potential of section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expiring is being used to push through the US Congress the USA FREEDOM Act that will give the mass surveillance program a new legal framework just as the old legal framework provided in the PATRIOT Act is coming under greater judicial scrutiny.

The “reform” USA FREEDOM Act (act two of PATRIOT Act sponsor Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)) has passed in the House and is available for consideration in the Senate. But, the failure of the new bill to end or even significantly restrict the mass spying program has become increasingly evident. If Congress does not send to President Barack Obama the USA FREEDOM Act in its current form or a simple extension of set to expire PATRIOT Act provisions soon, expect an effort to quickly push through Congress a “new and improved” USA FREEDOM Act.

There will be much bluster about an “improved” USA FREEDOM ACT — a pig with lipstick — striking the right balance to protect both liberty and security. But, as with the PATRIOT Act 14 years ago, national security state special interests will control the tinkering behind the scenes, and the American people will learn what was wrought only after the bill passes.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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