The watered down USA Freedom Act did not clear the Senate yesterday, though Senators Warren and Markey voted for its cloture motion. Back in May, Representatives, Kennedy, Lynch, and Tsongas voted for the even worse House version.
We appreciate the effort that the EFF, ACLU and other civil liberties organizations put into getting this bill passed. Unfortunately, the likely final bill would have made mass surveillance more acceptable and wouldn’t have done enough to end it.
The Republican histrionics that this bill would have helped terrorists was a wonder to watch. The fact that the NSA’s mass surveillance of everyone on the planet hasn’t stopped a single terrorist attack is lost on the nattering nabobs who will soon control the Senate.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is one of the supports for such mass surveillance programs, expires next year. If the USA Freedom Act had passed, we wouldn’t see that fine day until 2017, sixteen years after it was put in place. While the Senate and House leadership will attempt to renew it, it is up to us to make sure they don’t.