Shane Harris on the Patriot Act’s renewal
June 2nd, 2011
The federal government’s investigative powers received a booster shot last week when Congress renewed the Patriot Act. National Public Radio’s “On the Media” turned to Shane Harris (’98), who has been writing about intelligence and national security for 10 years, to analyze the legislation.
Harris is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine and the author of “The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State.” Time magazine said the book “reads like a spy novel,” but Harris “lays out the U.S. government’s real-life efforts to see and hear more in the face of growing terrorist threats.”
In the radio interview Harris summarized the three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that allow the government to obtain multiple wiretaps when tracking a single person; obtain various business records, including hotel and rental car documents; and start surveillance on someone even if the government can’t show the person is connected to a terrorist organization or is a foreign agent or a spy. Harris was also intrigued by a senator’s accusation that there could be “secrecy within secrecy” in the way the government is interpreting the act to allow for the collection of more information.
The summer issue of Wake Forest Magazine features a Q&A with Harris called “Spy Talk.” He recalls his Wake Forest days and remembers having had “extraordinary opportunities to write, and extraordinarily forgiving instructors.” Stay tuned, alumni. The magazines should arrive in your mail early this month, and we hope to have the online edition available in the next few days.