Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Reps. Mike Thompson, Jared Huffman urge Senate approval of Patriot Act
Echoing President Obama on Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said national security would be compromised if the Senate fails to act on a proposed modification of the USA Patriot Act’s surveillance provisions.
If the original law expires at midnight Sunday without Senate action, “we’re going to be dark” with “huge holes in our security system,” said Thompson, a former member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Thompson and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, were among the 142 House Democrats who voted two weeks ago for the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan compromise measure that would end the government’s mass collection of telephone records while renewing less controversial parts of the Patriot Act. The bill passed the House, 338-88, but has stalled in the Senate.
Two years ago, Huffman and Thompson were divided on the issue, with Thompson defending the National Security Agency’s telephone dragnet, opposed by civil libertarians, while Huffman supported ending such operations through the Freedom Act.
Thompson said Friday that he hadn’t changed his mind in backing the Freedom Act, which would require security agencies to cite a specific reason for acquiring phone records that would be held by telecommunications companies.
“I think it’s adequate for national security,” he said.
Huffman said the reforms in the Freedom Act “were critical to me.” Asked if he would prefer to let the Patriot Act lapse, Huffman said that it included “provisions I think are important to our national security.”