Today, the Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is urging Senate leaders to pass legislation that will reauthorize the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act.
Representing 8500 current and former FBI Agents, the Society is an apolitical, professional membership organization with no agenda, other than to support efforts to keep our nation and citizens safe. Based on our experience, we know the necessity of the provisions that are set to expire. They have never been more necessary than they are in today’s threat climate.
Passed in 2001 after the attacks of 9/11, the Patriot Act provided law enforcement with critical tools in the fight against terrorism. The provisions set to expire govern how the FBI lawfully collects data, how we track “lone wolf” attackers, and how we obtain surveillance orders. The threats against America have grown even stronger and more brutal since 2001. Al-Qaeda, ISIL, AQAP, Al-Shabaab, and other groups and individuals like them, all seek to do deadly harm to us. The numbers have grown, their skills have increased, and their resolve is unwavering and absolute.
The terrorist threats that we face today, and particularly within our own borders, should alarm every citizen in America. FBI Director James Comey has addressed the use of social media to recruit increasing numbers of people to ISIL within the United States. Recently, ISIL claimed responsibility for an attack in Texas. A report now claims that ISIL has placed “soldiers” in fifteen states. This is surely not the time to let down America’s guard.
The FBI is committed to the rule of law and to the rights of our citizens to privacy. However, let us be clear. Unless we can successfully address imminent threats to safety, the American way of life cannot be preserved. Without the necessary tools and without trust in the FBI, our nation will be weaker and our citizens will be less safe. We believe that the FBI’s lawful efforts, along with vigilant oversight, strike the proper balance between security and privacy.
As its acronym suggests, the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act are essential to Protecting America. We ask members of Congress to do their part by supporting the reauthorization.