By Bob Barr
Atlanta, GA, Thursday, September 17, 2009 – Former Congressman Bob Barr (GA) today praised Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for introducing legislation in the Senate that would reform the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), both of which, while containing important and appropriate tools the government can employ to investigate and prosecute terrorist acts, improperly infringe the civil liberties of American citizens. The legislation is “The Judiciously Using Surveillance Tools in Counterterrorism Efforts Act” (the “JUSTICE Act”).
Barr said, “The legislation Sen. Feingold introduced today will correct several provisions in both the Patriot Act as it was hurriedly passed in 2001, and in FISA as it was amended in 2008.” He noted also that, “the changes to these laws that Sen. Feingold’s bill makes will go a long way toward restoring the constitutional rights guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights, but without denying the government the appropriate tools it needs to investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism.”
Barr also noted that while all provisions in the Feingold bill are important, “most important are those provisions that require the government to show a connection between the person the government wants to surveil or collect information on, and terrorism, terrorist entities or espionage.” “If this legislation passes and is signed into law by President Obama,” Barr said, “no longer would the government be able – as it now can – to surreptitiously eavesdrop on any overseas communication it wishes, including those of American citizens innocently communicating with someone in another country; and no longer could the government access a citizen’s most personal records without at least some reasonable suspicion the person has a connection to terrorism or espionage.”
Barr served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was a member of the Judiciary Committee. He also served from 1986 to 1990 as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and from 1971 to 1978 with the CIA. He currently practices law in Atlanta, Georgia.