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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.

Filed Under: mitch mcconnell, patriot act, usa freedom act


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  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 23 Apr 2015 @ 11:53am

    When I read the title, I was hoping Senator McConnell had actually taken his copy of the bill and dropped it onto the literal floor, as if to say, "This bill is garbage".
    Clearly I'm not cynical enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 12:00pm

    I really do not understand how people in Kentucky keep voting for him. Even with my cynicism and understanding how gullible people are to massive amounts of money in politics and advertising, it still utterly baffles me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 23 Apr 2015 @ 12:26pm

    Treason

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 2:43pm

      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.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 23 Apr 2015 @ 12:34pm

    Correction:

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 12:49pm

    Good cop / Bad Cop

    After the shock of Mitch's bill, the senators will be softened up to accept the Freedom Act, including any last minute amendments that go into it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 1:02pm

    On the floor

    If he literally dropped it on the floor, then the rest of the Senators should certainly stomp on it, tromp on, and wipe their feet on it, except they they would need to go and clean their shoes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 1:46pm

    there's still a number of senators willing to grant national security agencies whatever they need, whenever they ask.

    and they are the same senators who think that they will never be the target of any spying, leading to any investigation, because, cough, they never do any wrong!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 2:39pm

      Re:

      much like Feinstein they get all indignant when they find out they have been spied on, then go back to supporting spying on everyone else when they get an exemption for themselves

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 1:59pm

    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..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 6:06pm

      Re:

      Yeah, Burr is not on the side of the american public(or the public of any other country in fact), so expecting him to even consider doing anything that would so much as inconvenience the spy agencies would be naive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 2:23pm

    Nausious

    Whenever I see McConnell's name, or see his picture, I suddenly get a really bad stomach ache. Is this just a "knee-jerk" reaction, or is there something about him that is just plain noxious?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BernardoVerda (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 7:51pm

      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."
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning

      Now then... where did I leave my little bell...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2015 @ 2:25pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 2:38pm

    why even bother just have Obama do another ignore congress and pass the laws he wants without regards to how the system is supposed to work.

    It would not be a first time a president has ignored his countries laws and done whatever the hell he wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 24 Apr 2015 @ 6:14am

      Re:

      Whatever makes you think a Republican would be any different? Drop the partisanship. Move away from the partisanship. Easy now...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Just Another Anonymous Troll, 24 Apr 2015 @ 6:46am

        Re: Re:

        There's no partisanship there. Obama has been observed to violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and he didn't sling around any terms such as 'liberal' or even mention political parties at all. If anything, you're the partisan one,

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 3:59pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 23 Apr 2015 @ 4:18pm

    Sure McConnell, we'll consider your bill just as soon as all of your personal and professional metadata is published and released in full, unredacted, to the public for review. We need to know that you have nothing to hide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    You are being watched (profile), 23 Apr 2015 @ 5:01pm

    Political Chairs

    McConnell is a master at it. Shame he's a corrupt bastard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bgmcb (profile), 24 Apr 2015 @ 12:00am

    Surprise

    In previous votes no one knew what they were voting for. A straight up vote for mass surveillance? That will sure stir things up.

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 24 Apr 2015 @ 3:27am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 24 Apr 2015 @ 7:01pm

    McConnell

    This fossil needs to be buried.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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