Senator: There Are Two Patriot Acts, And You Don't Know About One Of Them

Business Insider | October 17, 2011
By Matt Rosoff

Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, explained that "there are two Patriot Acts in America."

One is the public one, a law whose text you can pull up on your Web browser.

But there's another one -- the "secret interpretation that the executive branch uses" to carry out its enforcement of the law.

Wyden couldn't say much more because of security concerns, but John Heilemann asked him if he would correct him when he made the following statement: the administration is doing a lot more warrantless wiretapping under their interpretation of the Patriot Act than most people think.

Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and fellow Democrat Senator Mark Udall from Colorado, have voiced criticism about how the Patriot Act is being used in the past.

Wyden was silent for a second before saying "I'm so glad I'm not running for president." But he didn't dispute Heilemann's statement.

The New York Times has sued the U.S. government to disclose more information about how the PATRIOT Act is used, and Wyden said he strongly supports that action.

Wyden was appearing at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, where the theme is big data.