Burr says Patriot Act doesn’t violate American’s privacy

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For 50 years the Memorial Day celebration has happened on the USS North Carolina. The history of the ship not lost on Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

“Today the grandchildren of those sailors that fought on this vessel, fight in countries all over the world for the same reason, freedom and democracy,” Burr said.

There’s a very different conversation about freedom and democracy happening in the US Senate. It’s a debate over NSA spying and how much information of yours the government is allowed monitor. We asked Burr why he didn’t want to let the patriot act expire.

“Because it’s a tool that enables law enforcement to keep this country safe,” he said.

The Patriot Act, enacted after 9/11, is the law that in part allows the NSA to collect all kinds of information about Americans, including phone records. On June 1st that law is set to expire. The senate has tried to extend the law, even temporarily, to no avail. Perhaps because, polls show almost 3/4 of Americans don’t want to sacrifice privacy and freedom for safety from terrorism

“We’ve got the responsibility in Washington to do what’s right and not necessarily what’s popular. Right now, what we’re doing is not popular, but it is keeping this country safe and we’re going to continue to do that,” Burr said.

He admitted Monday though the patriot act will most likely be replaced with a law that scales back the NSA’s authority. Burr was quick to point out though it is not because he thinks people’s rights have been violated.

“To believe that they (NSA) have infringed on anybody’s privacy by not knowing whose telephone number it was, I think most Americans would agree with me, uh why are we changing it?”

A point that is very much up for debate. Burr went so far as to say these types of programs could have prevented 9-11. We pressed him on whether or not he really thought that was true.

“Well there’s no way of knowing exactly but if then we could have searched a us database of telephone numbers we might have made the connection,” said Burr.

Burr is proposing a compromise of sorts called the FISA Improvements Act. If it passes the law would give control of our phone records to the phone companies not the NSA. It would also drastically limit the amount of information the NSA could collect. The Senate plans to come back from their holiday break early to continue discussions on this topic.

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