While one should remain skeptical of just exactly what will happen, the Senate voted in the majority on Tuesday in favor of the USA Freedom Act, adopting the same version of the bill that had overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last month by 338-88. The USA Freedom Act (theoretically) ends the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata, it allows that information to be stored instead by telecommunications providers, which could then be accessed by intelligence agencies with a warrant.
- *SENATE PASSES HOUSE BILL TO EXTEND U.S. NSA SPY AUTHORITY
By 67-32, Senate votes final passage of USA Freedom Act to extend Patriot Act surveillance authorizations. Pres Obama will sign it.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 2, 2015
The US Senate has passed the House-approved version of the USA Freedom Act, a bill cementing the surveillance powers of the NSA, only one day after the expiration of key provisions of the Patriot Act. While sold as reigning in the agency’s surveillance powers, the bill allows the NSA to resume collecting intelligence.
The Act formally pulls the plug on the NSA’s controversial collection and retention of phone metadata, and marks the first curtailing of US intelligence gathering since the terrorist attacks of September 11.
An un-amended bill...
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), an adamant critic of the bill up until the moment Tuesday’s vote occurred, had unsuccessfully tried earlier in the day to tack on amendments that opponents said would have weakened efforts to reform the nation’s surveillance operations. Had McConnell’s amendments been accepted by the Senate, then the new version of the USA Freedom Act would have had to go back to the House to be voted again, further delaying passage.
With the Senate’s passage of the “clean” reform bill that’s already cleared the House, the USA Freedom Act is expected to soon end up on the desk of President Barack Obama and be signed into law.
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So while on the surface this appears to be a victory, we rather skeptically suggest it merely changes the place where the bulk data is stored... and even more cynically leaves the data access less open to FOIA requests as it is now private property (not government).
Realistically it appears nothing more than a great PR effort to bury the spy state even deeper (and we wonder just what will happen to the Bluffdale, Utah NSA Data Center)?
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This sums it up still in our view...