skip to main contentskip to popular page linksskip to main navigation links
Office Hours Program Social Security Calculator Translate this page into another language
photo of Mike Capuano Michael E. Capuano representing the 7th district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives Go to the House of Representatives homepage
Visit Mike's video channel on YouTube Like Mike on Facebook


 Mike's Schedule Voting Record District Maps Register To Vote FAQ Site Map e-Updates

8,333 subscribers
Printer-friendly web page: Mike on Civil Liberties and Individual Freedoms

Mike on Civil Liberties and Individual Freedoms

I am committed to protecting our civil liberties — one of the principles upon which our country was founded. In 2001, I was one of only 33 Members of Congress to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act. We must give law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe. However, the PATRIOT Act is a bad law because it failed to protect our cherished civil liberties.

Like many of my constituents, I was deeply concerned by reports in 2005 that the National Security Agency (NSA) was allegedly wiretapping phone calls of United States citizens without a warrant. I immediately reached out to a number of constitutional law scholars in my district to learn their views on the constitutionality of this program and was not surprised that virtually every professor who responded believes this program is unconstitutional. If you are interested in learning their views, you may click here.

I co-sponsored legislation in the 110th Congress that would establish a national independent commission to examine this issue, and joined a number of my colleagues in filing an Amicus brief with the federal courts considering it. Our intent was to make it clear that many Members of Congress believe this program has little basis in law or the Constitution.

I was outraged in the summer of 2013 to learn that the federal government was obtaining information from major phone and internet providers about telephone calls, emails, and other internet activity to and from the United States. Federal officials argued that this bulk data collection was permissible under the PATRIOT Act and that U.S. Citizens were not being targeted. This is an incredible overreach and a clear invasion of privacy. A better balance must be struck between giving law enforcement the means to monitor potential terrorists and preserving the freedoms terrorists seek to destroy. I am supporting legislation, the USA FREEDOM Act, to ensure that the rights of Americans are protected by limiting the scope of the PATRIOT Act.

I also opposed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which passed the House by a narrow margin of 213-197. The original FISA legislation permitted wire-tapping with warrants obtained from judges in special courts who could examine evidence in camera, that is, in secret, if national security might be compromised by a discussion in open court. The new bill failed, in my opinion, to protect our citizens from unconstitutional intrusions, and although it made some improvements, I could not support it. In the 111th Congress, I cosponsored H.R. 104, To establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties. It called for an independent commission, with members appointed by the President and by leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, to investigate detention; "enhanced interrogation techniques;" "ghosting" or other policies intended to conceal an individual's capture or detention; extraordinary rendition; and domestic warrantless electronic surveillance. The bill had 50 co-sponsors but unfortunately it was never brought to the floor for a vote.

I remain deeply troubled by the targeted killing program undertaken by the Executive Branch in both of the two most recent presidential administrations. These efforts are aimed at eliminating terrorist threats overseas; they are conducted with utmost secrecy and usually involve the use of drone aircraft. While I recognize that national security may, in some instances, require U.S. strikes against those abroad who pose an imminent threat to our country, I believe our government can and must set up a more regularized framework grounded in law and based on sound policy. The “collateral damage” often deepens our difficulties in dealing with local governments who are themselves under threat from terrorist networks. Transparency is needed to legitimize the policy and confirm America’s moral leadership in the world. I plan to pursue this issue and seek support of my colleagues in Congress to ensure that human rights are not violated and broader foreign policy goals not undermined by targeted killings. It is essential also to affirm the Constitutional role of Congress in authorizing the use of force.

I have also consistently fought to protect the fundamental civil rights of all Americans. The right to vote is crucial to our democracy. Every citizen eligible to vote must feel free to exercise that right and to know votes will be fairly counted. I am proud to have co-sponsored the reauthorization of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 and am pleased that it is now the law of the land. I have also insisted that any reform of voting systems include the right of every citizen to demand a paper ballot.

Open printer-friendly web page

8,333 subscribers




Home | About | Biography | Contact | Issues | Links | News | Schedules | Services

E-Updates | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Accessibility

110 First Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
P: (617) 621-6208
F: (617) 621-8628

Roxbury Community College
Campus Library
Room 211

Stetson Hall
Room 124
6 South Main Street

  Constituent Services Click to close menu
  Casework and Constituent Assistance
  Citizenship/Naturalization Information
  Immigration Casework
  Ordering Flags Flown Over The Capitol
  Presidential Greetings
  U.S. Service Academy Nominations
  Internship Programs
  Washington, D.C. Attractions
  Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance
  News and Multimedia Center Click to close menu
  Recent Votes
  Press Items
  Video and Audio
  Photo Gallery
  Legislative Issues Click to close menu
  Mike on the Issues
  Recent Votes
  Mike's Voting Record
  Scorecards for Mike's Votes in Congress
  Legislation Sponsored by Mike
  Earmark Requests
  Committees and Caucuses
  Ethics Task Force
  Congressional Schedules Click to close menu
  Mike's Schedule
  House Floor Summary
  Weekly House Schedule
  Annual House Calendar
  Weekly Senate Schedule
  About The 7th District Click to close menu
  The 7th District Over the Years
  Nobel Prize Winners
  Interesting facts about Massachusetts
  Massachusetts Links
  Links Click to close menu
  Massachusetts Links
    State Government
    About the 7th District
    Arts, Culture and Attractions
    Chambers of Commerce
    Colleges and Universities
    Exploring Massachusetts
    Hospitals and Health Organizations

  Federal Government Links - Official Government Portal
    Legislative Branch
    Executive Branch
    Judicial Branch
    Federal Agencies
    Kids' Pages
    Register to Vote
    Washington, D.C. Attractions
    Business Opportunities with the Government

  Links For Students
  Contact Mike Click to close menu
  District Office
  Washington, D.C. Office
  Office Hours Program
  Community Meetings
  E-mail Mike's Office