Press Releases

Senators Leahy and Lee Demand Answers to Critical Surveillance Questions

The debate around PATRIOT Act reauth set off unauthorized surveillance alarms

July 21, 2020
Contact: Sean Vitka, (570) 798-7678, [email protected]

This afternoon, Senators Leahy and Lee sent a letter to Attorney General Barr and Director of National Intelligence Ratcliffe seeking answers to critical questions about whether the government is misusing its statutory surveillance powers and whether it is conducting domestic mass surveillance without Congressional authorization or oversight. The letter is available here.

As Senators Leahy and Lee’s letter explains, “any surveillance conducted in the absence of statutory authorities and congressional oversight would be extraordinarily concerning and illegal.”

The following statement can be attributed to Sean Vitka, senior policy counsel at Demand Progress:

“Senators Leahy and Lee are asking critically important questions that Congress and the public need answered. The last time Bill Barr was Attorney General, he authorized a mass surveillance program under the DEA that operated in secret for over 20 years, and we can’t even begin to measure its impacts on Americans’ rights. In March, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence claimed on the Senate floor that President Trump can conduct mass surveillance of Americans ‘without Congress’s permission, with no guardrails.’ This is alarming, dangerous, and urgent.”

Demand Progress Education Fund and the FreedomWorks Foundation have released numerous materials regarding the expired authorities at, including the government’s long history of abusing Section 215.