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Feb 28th
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Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

sam farr2What is your stance on the Obama Administration’s handling of national security leaks and unprecedented utilization of the Espionage Act to prosecute people who have leaked classified information?

The increasing number of prosecutions for security leaks is troubling. I believe it comes out of a growing frustration that many Americans, including those who have access to classified information, are developing for the Federal government. 

The root of this problem is in many provisions of the Patriot Act. Certainly there are bad people in this world and we need to be constantly searching for them. However, we must do so in a way that protects the individual civil liberties that provide the foundation of our democracy. The act does not put proper safeguards in place to protect our liberties and that is why I voted against it every single time it was up for authorization.

Our nation is built upon a system of checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power. Unfortunately, the Patriot Act simply does not provide enough checks. The FISA Court was created to rein in the abuses of power that grew out of the Patriot Act but it too has been cloaked in secrecy. With few eyes watching the Court, it has allowed the government to continually overstep the already weak parameters of the Patriot Act.

This has left many in the intelligence community frustrated. The vast majority of individuals with security clearances accepted that responsibility because they wanted to protect our liberty not because they wished to infringe upon it. Placing them in the situation where they are forced to spy on their fellow law-abiding citizens has left them with little recourse but to reach out to the press.

If the president wanted to end the number of leaks, he should start by working with the whistleblowers to end the abuses fostered by the Patriot Act and bring more transparency to the FISA Court. With a renewed confidence in the mission, the intelligence community would no longer feel the need leak classified information and could once again focus on catching the real enemy.

What is Marine Technology Week, and what are some achievements in marine technology that it will promote?

Earlier this month, I joined with my fellow Oceans Caucus Chair, Congressman Don Young of Alaska, to propose a national Marine Technology Week to be observed in late September. The purpose of the week is to recognize and raise awareness of the important contributions made by marine technology. The week would coincide with the OCEANS 2013 conference in San Diego and the Marine Technology society’s 50th anniversary.

Many people do not understand how important marine technology is to our society. Marine technology reduces the destruction inflicted by natural disasters, protects fragile ecosystems from environmental damage caused by pollution, and fosters a better understanding of our marine world, all while providing a needed boost to local economies.

In Santa Cruz County alone, marine technology contributes more than $300 million annually to our local economy and is responsible for almost 8,000 jobs. The benefit of marine technology is not just confined to our area or other coastal communities. Nationally, it contributes $258 billion to our country’s GDP and is responsible for 2.8 million jobs.

From the MBARI engineers who rely on marine technology to perform their jobs to local business like West Marine in Watsonville, which sells marine technology products nationwide, the Central Coast understands the importance of marine technology. Now it’s time to show the rest of the country. I hope everyone will join with me Sept. 22 through 28 in celebration of Marine Technology Week.

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