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Renewal of USA Patriot Act Provisions Has Congress Divided: Congressman

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United States Capitol - Sputnik International
Congressman Alan Grayson said that the upcoming debate in the US Congress over renewing sections of the act, which authorized government surveillance of American citizens, is creating a rift between lawmakers.

WASHINGTON, January 9 (Sputnik) — The upcoming debate in the US Congress over renewing sections of the controversial 2001 USA Patriot Act, which authorized government surveillance of American citizens, is creating a rift between lawmakers, Congressman Alan Grayson has told Sputnik.

"We have roughly, equally divided camps at this point. The principled among us are against pervasive spying. The ones who are scared are the ones who are in favor of it," Grayson said Thursday, adding that the "principled" group of congressmen "recognizes the travesty of pervasive spying in the United States".

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In a Wednesday opinion piece, former Senate Intelligence staff director Gary Schmitt warned that the January 7 terrorist attacks in Paris should "give some pause to those members who think now is the time to water-down our own counterterrorism efforts," referring to reauthorizing portions of the Patriot Act.

Grayson, a strong opponent of government surveillance of US citizens, disagrees with the assessment.

"The way the spying-industrial complex works is…whatever happens in the world that is regarded as bad is an excuse for them to take away our rights, one after another," Grayson told Sputnik Thursday, stressing that attempts by government agencies to spy on private citizens is "a pathetic abrogation" of people's rights.

By June 2015, a number of sections in the USA Patriot Act will expire, including the provision that authorized the US National Security Agency (NSA) to carry out bulk collection of Americans" telephone records, which was authorized following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Last year, members of the US Congress tried to reform portions of the Patriot Act, but ultimately failed.

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