Leashing the Surveillance State: How to Renew and Reform Patriot Act Surveillance Authorities
In the panicked aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Congress moved with dizzying haste to enact the USA Patriot Act, a sprawling overhaul of American intelligence law. Nearly a decade later, three important counter‐terror surveillance powers are up for renewal, giving lawmakers an opportunity to review their work. The three expiring powers — “lone wolf” surveillance authority, roving intelligence wiretaps, and orders for the production of “tangible things” — as well as the FBI’s controversial power to issue National Security Letters — are analyzed in a new Cato study, which argues that it is possible to strengthen the safeguards that protect the constitutional liberties of American citizens while preserving the tools investigators need to detect and apprehend terrorists. Cato scholars Julian Sanchez and David Rittgers, joined by former FBI agent and ACLU policy analyst Michael German, will survey what we’ve learned from a decade of the Patriot Act and offer concrete proposals for reform.