Sen. McConnell Undercuts USA Freedom Act By Dropping Bill To Reauthorize PATRIOT Act Until 2020 Directly On The Senate Floor

from the keep-those-traitorous-reformers-in-line-and-all-that dept

In a little more than a month, elements of the PATRIOT Act are up for renewal. Among aspects being considered is the Section 215 program, an element which could suddenly disappear from the NSA’s surveillance arsenal if the provision isn’t re-upped yet again. (Or not. Wording in the most recent Section 215 authorization from the FISA court suggests it will just renew the order on June 1st unless it hears otherwise from Congress.)

With enough of a concerted non-effort, these provisions could simply expire. But there’s no way this date comes and goes without a vote. PATRIOT Act renewals have generally faced minimal opposition, but this year there’s a bit more uncertainty. A year-and-a-half of surveillance leaks has finally forced many legislators to confront what exactly they’re authorizing in the name of national security. The leaks have led directly to numerous bills seeking to curb the NSA’s domestic surveillance efforts. None have been successful to this point, but there’s enough ill will out there that this renewal isn’t the slam dunk it’s been in previous years.

Obviously well aware of this increased opposition, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a last-minute bill that would reauthorize the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions until the end of 2020. To ensure it gets to the floor before opposing bills or June 1st’s expiration date, McConnell and co-sponsor Richard Burr invoked a Senate rule that allowed them to bypass the usual process — namely its initial appearance before a Senate committee, which can then decide if the bill should move forward.

This allows McConnell and supporters to get a jump on Sen. Leahy’s revamped USA Freedom Act, which is due to be presented to the Senate committee Wednesday. (McConnell presented his bill Tuesday night). Leahy isn’t happy.

“Despite overwhelming consensus that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act must end, Senate Republican leaders are proposing to extend that authority without change,” he said in a statement Tuesday night. “This tone deaf attempt to pave the way for five and a half more years of unchecked surveillance will not succeed. I will oppose any reauthorization of Section 215 that does not contain meaningful reforms.”

McConnell may not believe he has the votes necessary to push through a “no questions asked” renewal of these PATRIOT Act provisions, but his actions signal there’s still a number of senators willing to grant national security agencies whatever they need, whenever they ask.

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Comments on “Sen. McConnell Undercuts USA Freedom Act By Dropping Bill To Reauthorize PATRIOT Act Until 2020 Directly On The Senate Floor”

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Personanongrata says:


Once upon a time in the good olde US of A working to actively subvert the US Constitution by those who have sworn oaths to protect and defend it would be considered treason.

The criminals infesting the US Capitol have noting to fear as their constituents are busy watching television and apparently can not find the time nor the spine to hold their treasonous senators/representatives accountable to the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Treason

And how do you propose we do that? The deck is stacked from the Federal Government, including all the 3 letter agencies, the DOJ, National Media and all the way down to your local politician, police officer, and local tv stations. It’s not like we aren’t trying. Much of it being actively subverted with every tactic in the book (manufactured consent, etc.)

David says:


but his actions signal there’s still a number of senators willing to grant national security agencies whatever they need, whenever they ask.

Not “whatever they need” but rather “whatever they lust after”. The record has clearly established that the eavesdropping overauthorizations have not contributed towards any of the actual duties of the NSA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Slow down there McConnell, no need to try so desperately to sell out the American people…

I also find it funny that Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr is a cosponsor of this bill, considering he should know what the US government is up to and should be pulling on the reigns to slow them down as well…but nope..

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Nausious

Let me introduce you to a fellow I learned about in school. He was a Russian scientist, who happened to use dogs in his physiology research. His name was Ivan Pavlov, and in 1904 he won the Nobel Prize for Physiology & Medicine.

Classical conditioning (also Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) is a process of behavior modification in which an innate response to a potent biological stimulus becomes expressed in response to a previously neutral stimulus; this is achieved by repeated pairings of the neutral stimulus and the potent biological stimulus that elicits the desired response. Classical conditioning was made famous by Ivan Pavlov and his experiments conducted with dogs.”

Now then… where did I leave my little bell…

Anonymous Coward says:

Possibly mis-phrased?

…willing to grant national security agencies whatever they need, whenever they ask.

I think it is less a matter of what they need and more of what they want.

They don’t need to scoop up everyone’s data in order to find terrorists. They do that now and can’t find them. Of course I’m not talking about the FBI created plots.

They want to be able to engage in bulk surveillance because a corrupt military industrial complex with billions of dollars at stake has convinced a clueless congress that that’s the way it has to be. Congress has actively turned off their critical thinking skills and just rolled over and basically said, “sure why not?”.

Even if section 215 expires and this latest patriot act renewal doesn’t pass, they’ll just find another way to ram through more spying power, with little public debate. They are corrupt. They simply know no other way.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Huh, why 2020? Why not just claim there is too much invested, too much infrastructure, and too many programs to make it go away now? The “too big to fail/kill/ignore” meme seems to work every other time. Or would too many people be irritated still so it would make Congress uncomfortable if they just up and said “this is forever now”? Little bits, little bits. When big bites just might be a little too blatant.

David says:

Re: Surprise

Congressmen/Senator you were elected to uphold the constitution, why did you vote to trash it?

Because he is paid to do it. Now he is paid a lot to uphold the Constitution as well but the pay does not depend on him actually doing so but just on getting the required number of votes.

And as long as he keeps cranking out the same election lies that worked last time, a vote swing is unlikely. It doesn’t matter that he never intends to keep any. If the people believed his opponents any more than him, it might pose a problem. But why should they? They are all politicians.

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