Indiana lawmakers strongly criticize president over telephone, Internet security monitoring

Question whether Patriot Act should be repealed

INDIANAPOLIS - The recent revelations of telephone and internet monitoring have Hoosier politicians strongly criticizing the President.

They're calling for an end to the program and perhaps the Patriot Act that makes it possible.

President Obama defended the program Friday as necessary for national security.

But many Hoosier politicians are rejecting that.

The President said security personnel trying to identify possible terrorists are only monitoring who people are contacting and the sites they're visiting, not what they're saying or hearing.

"When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.  That's not what this program is about," Obama said.

Rep. Luke Messer, R, said that's not good enough.

"We all want to make sure that we prevent terrorism.  But we can't allow terrorism to become an excuse to undercut our civil liberties and constitutional protections. I want to get to the bottom of this. I know we're gonna have a Congressional briefing next week.  But it looks like things that might have been appropriate ten years ago, right after 9/11, are not appropriate today," Messer said.

Messer said the Obama Administration has gone further in this area than former President Bush.

But the leader of Indiana's Libertarian Party said neither of the major parties has clean hands on this issue.

Dan Drexler wants the Patriot Act repealed and said government's constant demands for more snooping send us down a slippery slope.

"It's not just the data that's being taken.  It's what this leads to.  It's, you know, first this and the tolerance that we take.  Oh, we accept the fact that this is only one step, and it keeps us safe.  You know, the reality is, as we move forward, you know, they're going to ask for more.  It'll be facial-recognition software.  It'll be scanners everywhere," Drexler said.

Indiana University Law Professor David Orentlicher, a constitutional expert and former state legislator, said this type of surveillance is troubling as is the use of a secret court to authorize the spying.

Orentlicher said it's not clear if the snooping is constitutional, although if the government is only collecting data on who's talking to who, and not what they're saying, that might not be considered as invasive. 

RTV6 attempted to obtain comments from two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Joe Donnelly and Rep. Andre Carson.

Democratic Congressman Andre Carson said he's reviewing the details of the program, and is concerned about a program that has expanded to the large scale this one has done.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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