(Host) Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Parke is sharply criticizing Congressman Bernie Sanders’ effort to make changes to the Patriot Act. Parke says Sanders is “grandstanding” on this issue and that his amendment would provide a safe haven for terrorists. Sanders counters that Parke doesn’t understand what this issue is all about.
VPRs Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Last week Sanders sponsored an amendment that would have removed a provision from the Patriot Act that allows federal officials to secretly obtain information from libraries and bookstores about an individual’s reading habits. It appeared that the amendment had passed but then ten Republican members, who had supported the measure, changed their vote after time had expired on the voting process. The House was deadlocked on the issue and as a result it was not adopted.
GOP Congressional candidate Greg Parke says Sanders’ concerns are unwarranted because under the Patriot Act, the FBI still needs to get the approval from a judge before soliciting any information. Parke says Sanders’ amendment would allow suspected terrorists to gather information and use computers at libraries, a situation that Parke finds unacceptable:
(Parke) “Why would we want to create a safe haven? That’s what I want to know. Because if libraries and bookstores are off limits then somebody can go into any public library and use computers and Internet there with complete invulnerability to search. That would seem to me to be pretty stupid.”
(Kinzel) Sanders says Parke’s analysis of the role of the judicial system is wrong. Sanders says the FBI’s requests are sent to a special court specifically set up to hear foreign intelligence cases. The court operates in secret and Sanders says no burden of proof is needed to win approval for information gathering.
Sanders bristles at the charge that his amendment would benefit suspected terrorists:
(Sanders) “We’re giving safe haven to nobody. Under my amendment the FBI and government agents can go into libraries they can go into bookstores – no safe haven there. But they simply have to convince a judge or a grand jury that there is reason to do that. And I think that under the Constitution of the United States – a free country – that is a reasonable thing to ask.”
(Kinzel) Despite his recent defeat, Sanders says he’ll continue to work to make changes in the Patriot Act in the coming weeks.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.