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.

Filed Under: bob goodlatte, bulk collection, bulk records, compromise, congress, dutch ruppersberger, jim sensenbrenner, mike rogers, nsa, surveillance, usa freedom act


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  1. icon
    KoD (profile), 7 May 2014 @ 1:55pm

    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.

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