14:17 GMT07 April 2020
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    Former Watergate US federal prosecutor Nick Akerman claims that the broad surveillance powers granted to US law enforcement agencies by the Patriot Act are critical in gathering evidence and pursuing prosecutions in the age of terrorism.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The broad surveillance powers granted to US law enforcement agencies by the Patriot Act are critical in gathering evidence and pursuing prosecutions in the age of terrorism, former Watergate US federal prosecutor Nick Akerman told Sputnik.

    “In this age when you’re dealing with terrorists, the government needs the broader investigative powers provided by the Patriot Act,” Akerman said on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, US Senator Mitch McConnell introduced legislation to extend Section 215 of the Patriot Act that gives US intelligence agencies broad powers to monitor and gather data from US citizens.

    The Patriot Act has become a controversial political issue, Akerman acknowledged, but allegations that the legislation infringes on American civil liberties has been blown out of proportion.

    “There’s a lot of politics made out of this thing,” Akerman said. “But the reaction to the Patriot Act as somehow being an invasion of privacy is unwarranted.”

    Although the Act provides US officials with broader surveillance powers, there are checks in place to prevent abuses, Akerman explained, including the fact that law enforcement agents are required to get a court order before surveilling targets.

    Akerman was part of a team of US federal prosecutors that investigated former US President Richard Nixon and his administration for the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC.


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