Patriot Act powers are needed to fight ISIS, says former Intel chairman

Patriot Act powers are needed to fight ISIS, says former Intel chairman

Congress needs to renew the Patriot Act to combat the risk of “lone-wolf” attacks inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Tuesday said the rise of ISIS should give lawmakers pause before reducing the surveillance capabilities of the National Security Agency (NSA).

“Now you have a very real face on what the threat is,” Rogers said of ISIS, according to The Guardian.

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“Think about how many people are in Syria with western passports or even American passports.”

“I want to know if they pick up the phone,” Rogers said. “If they’re calling back to the States, I don’t know about you, but I want to know who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about.”

Rogers’s remarks come as Congress weighs whether or not to extend controversial sections of the Patriot Act that authorizes the NSA’s spying powers. Key provisions of the law are set to expire on June 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump faces crucial decisions on economy, guns Are Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would extend the expiring portions of the act through 2020. One of the provisions is Section 215, which the NSA has used to justify collecting bulk records of phone call metadata from millions of Americans.

Rogers on Tuesday called Americans’ fears about the NSA’s phone surveillance program “completely wrong.” He said NSA leaker Edward Snowden had created an unfair portrayal of how the agency collects data on the public.

“It got so distorted, as if the government were collecting everything and hoarding it in the basement and couldn’t wait to find out about Aunt May’s bunions,” Rogers said.

“The political narrative got ahead of the facts,” he continued. “It was very frustrating.”

Rogers compared the NSA’s metadata collection to a postman noting an envelope’s addressee and sender. Critics argue such information intrudes on the privacy of individual Americans.

“I mean, ISIS is a mess,” Rogers argued of the terrorist organization’s threat to the U.S.

“And this interconnected world we live in, with these folks having the ability to get back to the United States, is really troubling,” he added.

“We better have some mechanism to protect ourselves and still protect civil rights,” he concluded.