NEW YORK—PEN strongly opposes Senator Mitch McConnell’s effort to summarily reauthorize the Patriot Act’s provisions on mass surveillance in their current form without any debate. On Tuesday night, McConnell introduced a bill that would reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act–the legal authority the NSA uses to justify its bulk collection of U.S. telephone records and which could also be used to conduct other sweeping forms of information-gathering like the collection of library patrons’ reading and internet records–until 2020. McConnell is also seeking to bypass the traditional Senate committee process and bring the bill directly to the floor for a vote.

“Thirteen years after 9/11 and nearly two years after stunning revelations about the massive scope of dragnet surveillance programs, it is astonishing that Senator McConnell would push for a straight reauthorization of Section 215 without any attempt to respond to public concerns,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center. “McConnell’s attempt to fast-track a vote on the bill would set in stone the pervasive surveillance of Americans here at home that has upended our notions of privacy and been the subject of compelling reform proposals that deserve both debate and passage.”

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Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. www.pen.org

CONTACTS:

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director: snossel@pen.org, +1 646-779-4810
Katy Glenn Bass, Free Expression Programs: kglennbass@pen.org, +1 646-779-4818
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646-779-4830