The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote this evening on a watered down version of the USA FREEDOM Act that aims to rein in some of the worst domestic surveillance abuses of the National Security Agency (NSA). The Guardian reports:
"This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back," said McConnell, who will become majority leader in January.
"At the moment, we should not be doing anything to make the situation worse."
Libertarianish Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said that he won't support the bill because it's too weak. That is a mistake. When NSA-enabler McConnell and his minions take over the leadership of the Senate in January, they will certainly do nothing to prevent further unconstitutional NSA violations of the privacy and liberty protections afforded Americans by the Fourth Amendment.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:
The new Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act would:
-Rein in the NSA's illegal collection of millions of Americans' telephone records by amending one of the worst provisions of the PATRIOT Act, Section 215.
-Create a special advocate position that will serve as an amicus in the secret surveillance court, arguing for civil liberties and privacy.
-Provide new reporting requirements about surveillance, so that the NSA is forced to tell us how many people are actually being surveilled under its programs, including the program that allows the NSA to see the contents of Americans' communications without a warrant.
The bill is far from what is needed, but it's better than nothing.