Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Sen. Patrick Leahy, along with Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and Rep. Justin Amash have introduced a successor bill to the Amash-Conyers Amendment, titled the USA Freedom Act [H.R. 3361], which will stop unconstitutional privacy violations by curbing the ongoing mass surveillance initiative of the National Security Administration [NSA] and other intelligence agencies.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the majority author of the Patriot Act, claims that he was unaware to the extent of which the US government was collecting data, and has stated:
“The NSA is out of control, and the time has come not only to revise the Patriot and Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act [FISA], but I think we are going to have to completely revamp and [tone] down the NSA which is not supposed to be spying on Americans, but dealing with foreign intelligence.”
President Obama and his administration publicly lied to the people when he stated that there was “no domestic spying program,” Edward Snowden’s leaks have revealed that there was in fact a domestic spying initiative, and the details of the NSA’s eavesdropping and collection of e-mails and phone calls has been exposed.
Sen. Patrick Leahy stated regarding the reform attempt:
“The government surveillance programs conducted under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act are far broader than the American people previously understood. It is time for serious and meaningful reforms so we can restore confidence in our intelligence community,”
The USA Freedom Act would ideally put an end to unconstitutional spying, preventing the NSA from continuing its mass phishing exercise of collecting electronic and phone data from all Americans (and many foreigners), without first having reasonable grounds or legal justification and right to do so. Most importantly, it will end the broad and careless collection of Americans’ phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It also seeks to reform Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which will place stricter limitations on the collection of online communications. It would also appoint a public privacy advocate which would “argue in favor of pro-privacy” in front of the FISA court, as their solution to ensuring more transparency and oversight with this bill. But, transparency and oversight must be carried out by the people if the US is truly to have an honest representative democracy.
Under the new additions, like the one to Section 702(b) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, “no officer or employee of the United States may conduct a search of a collection of communications acquired under this section in an effort to find communications of a particular United States person (other than a corporation).”
Let’s just hope that individuals never be construed as corporations and vice versa…
Overall this bill seems to be a weak attempt toward any real solution. The American people have tolerated the unconstitutional actions of their government for an unreasonable amount of time, and public support for US representatives continually declines. Despite this, no real change is seen, and the same corrupt system continues to only serve and cater to the few, while crippling and enslaving the many.
The government will still be able to collect the data, but with this bill they now [apparently a new concept] are required to have an emergency reason for doing so, or a “court order.” Keep in mind that they’ve managed to obtain a few unlawful court orders in the past, never allowing any due process of law to restrict their objectives. The collection of the data is often unethical and unlawful in the first place, and that is a truth that representatives and sponsors of this bill seem to be forgetting:
”just because something is technically possible, and just because something may be technically deemed legal, does not mean it is the right thing to do.” – Senator Patrick Leahy
The actions of the US government and NSA have not been technically legal, and that is the point that Leahy and others appear to fail at grasping. We need to reform what is unlawful and unconstitutional, and rely on the people to ensure transparency and oversight, instead of relying on the same government who created the mess in the first place to suddenly decide to fix the problem. Although the present attempt is better than nothing, no fine print on any bill has ever stopped a US official from breaking the law before.