Saturday, May 2, 2015

NSA Domestic Spying Reform Bill Failed: McConnell Has Extension Bill Thru 2020

Back in business maybe until 2020
(snoop away NSA)

GOP Votes to Sustain NSA Abuse / Blocks Reform
(it is massive and on a grand scale)

The newly introduced USA Freedom Act includes reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), the secret court that approves NSA surveillance requests. It passed the House judiciary committee (DEM press release) below in part:
Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 25-2 the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048). This bipartisan bill – introduced by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) – reforms our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill currently has 26 bipartisan cosponsors, most of whom are on the House Judiciary Committee.  
First — despite a name change — just like the previous bill, five special advocates will be appointed by the court and will be called upon whenever the court is considering a novel or significant construction of law. The amicus is meant to advocate for the protection of civil liberties and privacy, educate the court on intelligence collection or communications technologies, and answer any questions the court may have.
Second — the new USA Freedom Act directs the government to declassify “significant” FISA Court opinions and defines “significant” to include any novel interpretation of “specific selection term” or other novel construction of law.

Reminder from last year by the NY TimesSenate Republicans blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk.

At the time, Democrats and a handful of Republicans who supported the measure fell two votes short of the 60 votes they needed to take up the legislation, which sponsors named the USA Freedom Act. Sen. Mitch McConnell, previous Republican minority leader, now full senate majority "leader" had worked hard to defeat the bill, which had the support of the Obama administration and a coalition of technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. He said at the time, “This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs.” He said the program was a vital tool in the fight against terrorism.

BUT, THAT WAS BEFORE THE GOP GAINED THE MAJORITY IN NOV 2014. Now, they are back and with a new modified bill and agenda: To get the controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act extended until 2020.

The NSA program as we all now know was revealed publicly almost two years ago by a former agency contractor, Edward Snowden, who is still hiding in Russia. His disclosure touched off a global debate over the proper scope of surveillance by U.S. spy agencies (like NSA), and that led President Obama to call for an end to the NSA’s collection of the records and it worked until now, or so it appears. 

In filing the new bill (for an extension until 2020), Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) invoked a Senate rule that enables them to bypass the traditional committee vetting process and take the bill straight to the floor. No date has been set for such consideration. 

The GOP loves this bill and its contents, as well the proposed extension no matter what prevails (negative fallout or whatever else might follow later). Apparently, the NSA does not surveil GOPers, um, you think. 

Hang on tight, it might get bumpy. The ball is back in the public’s domain, if NSA allows that.

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