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Rep. Sensenbrenner, author of Patriot Act, says government snooping goes too far

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner – who wrote the U-S-A Patriot Act soon after 9-11 – said the secret surveillance of Americans’ phone records goes way beyond what the law intended.

A British newspaper uncovered a court order this week that requires Verizon to turn over records of all landline and mobile calls made by its U-S customers on a daily basis. Investigators can look for calling patterns that hint of terrorism, and then seek court approval to wire-tap those numbers. House Intelligence Committee leaders say the effort helped thwart at least one terrorism attempt in the U-S, saving American lives.

Despite that, Sensenbrenner – of Menomonee Falls – says there’s a consensus from both parties that the surveillance program is a serious over-reach of the Patriot Act, and a violation of privacy. Former U-S Senate Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who cast the only vote against the Patriot Act in 2001, said the new revelations are “deeply troubling.” He hopes they trigger a new debate on protecting the country while protecting Americans’ rights.

Also, the Washington Post says there’s another program which lets the F-B-I and National Security Administration intercept computer photos, audio, video, e-mails, and other things that can track a person’s movements and contacts. Internet companies like Yahoo and Facebook insisted yesterday that it does directly provide the government with direct access to their records.