Tester slams Patriot Act, votes against extending controversial law

Senator says Patriot Act ‘tramples on our Constitutional rights’

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a longtime critic of the USA PATRIOT Act, tonight voted against a 3-month extension of the controversial law.

Before casting his vote, Tester told his Senate colleagues that the law “invades the privacy of law-abiding citizens” and “tramples on our Constitutional rights.”

Here are Tester’s prepared remarks to the Senate:

“Mr. President, Montanans sent me to the U.S. Senate to bring accountability to this body, to make responsible decisions, and to protect America and the freedoms we all enjoy.  I took the oath of office to defend the Constitution.

That’s why I’m going to vote against the Patriot Act.  I encourage others to follow suit.  I have never liked Patriot Act. I still don’t.

Like REAL ID, the Patriot Act invades the privacy of law-abiding citizens.  And it tramples on our Constitutional rights.

We need to find a balance – making our country more secure and giving our troops, law enforcement and intelligence agents the tools necessary to get the job done.  But we have to do it without invading the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

This extension doesn’t address any of those concerns.  It simply puts off the debate we need to have for another day.

There are some really troubling things that are not addressed by the extension of this law:

•    Roving wiretaps which allow surveillance of a “type of person,” instead of a particular person, over multiple phone lines. That is a slippery slope to eroding our Constitutional protection against government searches.

•    Using the Reasonable Grounds of Suspicion standard to require libraries and businesses to report to the government about what American citizens buy or borrow.

We don’t have to sacrifice our privacy and lose control of our personal information in order to be secure.  And we should never give up our Constitutional rights.

Voting for the Patriot Act is the wrong way to go.  Mr. President, we’ve got a lot smart people in this body.  We can develop the policies we need to fight terrorists without compromising our Constitutional civil liberties.  I ask my colleagues to join me in voting against extending this law today and in the future.  I yield the floor.”