Believing a public debate is longer overdue and that Congress has never provided proper oversight, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says he will vote against extending provisions of the Patriot Act when it comes before the House. The Senate is currently debating a four-year extension of the controversial anti-terrorism surveillance law, which was approved a month after the attacks of September 11, but has been criticized by many as unconstitutional.
Opponents of the law include U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who successfully delayed the measure’s passage Wednesday after introducing eight amendments. If Congress fails to reauthorize the bill then parts of the law will expire Friday morning.
Yarmuth says congressional leaders need to have this debate and there is no threat to national security if certain provisions expire for a short period of time.
“There’s never been any oversight of the Patriotic Act, there’s never been any public discussion about whether all the provisions are necessary and need to be extended. And that’s the kind of discussion that I think we need to have before we extend the provisions any longer,” he says.
Earlier this year, both the House and Senate passed a 90-day extension of the three key provisions amid growing concerns from civil liberties advocates and new House members backed by the Tea Party.
Despite claims of pass successes in capturing terror suspects by adding to the federal government’s arsenal of investigative tools, the congressman says controversial domestic wiretaps are a concern that Congress shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“You always have to worry about anything that gives the government the right to invade your privacy,” says Yarmuth. “And what we need to make sure is there are appropriate safeguards through the courts and through checks and balances that innocent citizen’s rights are not being abused.”