Under new version of Patriot Act, NSA needs to be kept in check

Intelligence agencies want unfettered authority to invade our privacy. It is in the very nature of spying organizations such as the National Security Agency.

But we Americans rightly resent intrusions into our private lives.

For years, the NSA has had – and used – sweeping authority to collect certain phone records. Bulk collection of that information allows the agency to know who is calling whom. NSA officials claim they do not actually monitor calls, but need information to spot links among Americans and foreign terrorists.

A bill passed by the House of Representatives would’ve curbed that authority somewhat. It would’ve require the NSA get court authorization to obtain phone records.

But the measure stalled in the Senate, due primarily to opposition by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

The Patriot Act was allowed to expire, but was quickly replaced with a bill that essentially restored the law, minus the carte blanche the NSA had previously enjoyed.

We agree that the NSA needs some authority to look at phone records.

But for many years, lawmakers permitted the NSA to have power far beyond what thoughtful Americans view as necessary to our national security.

Now that a revised Patriot Act is in place -?minus the unnecessary NSA intrusions – Congress should not make the same mistake. The regulations – and how the NSA uses and/or abuses them – should be reviewed regularly. If additional curbs are needed, they should be put in place quickly.