Looks Like 'Compromise' Has Been Reached On NSA Reform Bills

from the and-that-may-not-be-a-good-thing dept

On Monday, we noted that two different competing NSA reform bills had started lurching forward in Congress, though in looking through the Manager’s Amendment of the “good” bill, it quickly became clear that it had been very watered down, such that it really wasn’t that “good” any more. Late last night, there was a report coming out that the NSA’s number one defender, Rep. Mike Rogers, was actually much happier with the USA Freedom Act. In other words, it had been watered down so much that even Mike Rogers was willing to say it was a good bill.

In a dramatic change of tone, Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, praised a bill in the House Judiciary Committee that would sharply curb the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers. His remarks suggest that the powerful lawmaker may be more willing to vote for tougher reforms than previously anticipated.

Rogers and other national security hawks have spent weeks arguing that the USA Freedom Act, the most aggressive NSA reform bill under consideration in Congress, would remove tools that the government needs to track phone calls by foreign terrorists. Rogers, a staunch NSA supporter, is the sponsor of another bill that would codify many of the surveillance practices opposed by privacy advocates, such as the dragnet collection of records.

As we speak, the House markup on the bill is ongoing. However, in a twist, tomorrow’s “competing” markup for the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act — which is Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger’s “competing” bill — has now added a markup of the USA Freedom Act to the agenda. That means that a deal has been made, and if Rogers is willing to add USA Freedom to his committee’s schedule, it means that the “deal” is one that favors the NSA and not the public.

That is not to say that the USA Freedom Act does nothing. It actually does a few things to limit the NSA, but really does not tackle the largest problems. There was a lot of good stuff in the earlier version of the bill (which still didn’t go far enough on its own) and now it’s significantly weaker. So, rather than fixing the overall mess, the new USA Freedom Act makes some small fixes while leaving all sorts of problems.

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Comments on “Looks Like 'Compromise' Has Been Reached On NSA Reform Bills”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Yeah, no

If Rogers is for it, that pretty much means the bill is going to be completely and utterly useless at reigning in the NSA, and in fact is quite likely written in such a way that it expands or legitimizes their powers.

At this point the best outcome would be for both bills to be killed off, and to start the process over again, hopefully this time with those involved showing some spine, and pushing back against the NSA, rather than letting them re-write the bill to their liking.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder if Congress planned all along to introduce the USA Freedom Act as a strong privacy bill. Getting the EFF, ACLU, and the public to support it. Then quietly weaken the bill right before it goes up for vote. Hoping the public wouldn’t notice the changes and still throw their support behind it, because the EFF and ACLU said it was a good bill.

KoD (profile) says:

Certainly it must be painfully clear to anyone marginally aware of this whole debacle, that no meaningful reform will come from Congress. It is up to us to rebuild our beloved internet from the ground up, in such a way that makes it prohibitively expensive for NSA or anyone else to surveil us.
But that is the beauty of the age of the Internet. We can do that. We can take the power right out of the hands of our malevolent overlords.

KoD (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Except the U.S. has not fallen to this point. The U.S. has never been “for the people.” This country was founded on the idea of the ruling elite subjagating everyone else. The inception of the middle class was nothing more than the ruling class giving up just enough to create a buffer between them and the poor.

Howard Zinn has seriously taught me so mcuh and by showing how dark this country’s history is, has given me hope for its future. We have actually made significant progress as a country. Things used to be so much worse. God bless the Internet.

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