May 28, 2015 | Press Release

CONTACT: James Hinton (mailto: | 323-454-3477

Los Angeles, CA – Today, congressional candidate Steven J. Stokes (I-CA) released the following statement in response to H.R. 2048, the USA Freedom Act 2015, which is scheduled to be reconsidered by the U.S. Senate on Sunday May 31, 2015. H.R. 2048 is the first major foreign intelligence legislation to clear either house of Congress since Edward Snowden’s revelations of surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA).

“I strongly urge a no vote on the USA Freedom Act which extends Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The unwarranted surveillance of American citizens has created an environment where patriotic, law-abiding citizens mistrust their government. It has done nothing to keep Americans safer. We spend enormous time and resources amassing and analyzing huge amounts of data, diverting resources that can be better used on human intelligence.”

“The USA Freedom Act extends Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I support repeal of the Patriot Act and meaningful NSA surveillance reform. I want to protect our Bill of Rights and our tech industry. We all want a government we can trust, where laws are fairly and equally applied.”

“Much of the vote for the USA Freedom Act in the House was from voices for true reform that saw it as the only vehicle available for advancing some change. These representatives accepted incremental reform at the cost of a four-year Patriot Act extension. When it comes to programs which clearly violate any ordinary reading of the Constitution, we should not just alter the structure of the program, we must end the program.”

“Individuals behave one way when they are natural and relaxed in private moments. They act quite differently when they know they are being watched. This surveillance has altered the actions and expectations of millions of innocent American citizens.  Ordinary patriotic law abiding citizens I talk to are now fearful of their government. This is not the America that was envisioned by our founding fathers. Many of those concerned with effecting positive change in our country are concerned that the investigative powers of the U.S. have in the past been turned against peaceful reformers like Martin Luther King Jr.”

“The vibrancy of a free people is what has given Americans the unbridled sense of optimism which fuels our enterprise, creativity and innovation. That sense of true freedom has been robbed by the last two administration’s institution of unconstitutional, pervasive capture of the effects and communications of all our citizens.”

“The USA Freedom Act was crafted and passed by the House of Representatives before the Second Circuit ruled that the Patriot Act does not authorize the government's bulk telephone meta data collection program. The court ruled that an informed robust debate and explicit statutory authorization would be required for the court to accept that a program of this magnitude had been authorized by Congress. Since the court was able to rule against the program on statutory grounds it did not address the constitutional concerns.”

“With a flawed interpretation of the Patriot Act, the NSA has illegally spent billions of dollars in violating the civil liberties of millions of American citizens. They have undermined faith in America's tech industry costing billions more dollars to our economy. The NSA cannot show a single attack that has been thwarted by this program. This surveillance is instead used against American citizens in ordinary domestic crime investigations.”

“I believe we must allow the provisions of Section 215 to sunset. A fully informed and robust debate on mass surveillance can be resumed by the full Congress if these powers can be demonstrated necessary to our national security. Those responsible for the illegal interpretations and the resulting damage to the economy and reputation of the United States must not go unpunished lest this encourage further mass violations of the civil liberties of American citizens.”

“The American people want representatives who are not beholden to the intelligence establishment that instituted NSA surveillance but rather that will uphold our Constitution and return America to a position of moral authority.”



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