In an interview with Wired's Danger Room, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon, photo above) said the Patriot Act is worse than you've probably heard.
Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the
surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what
Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal
interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself
— entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses
this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a
"dragnet" for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the
government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.
"We're getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says
and what the American government secretly thinks the law says," Wyden
tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. "When you've
got that kind of a gap, you're going to have a problem on your hands."
What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence
committee, he laments that he can't precisely explain without
disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot
Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called "business
records provision," which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical
offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any "tangible
things" it deems relevant to a security investigation.
There's a Secret Patriot Act (Danger Room)
Also: At Steven Aftergood's Secrecy News site, a related item.
And security researcher Christopher Soghoian has a related post here.