Fate Of NSA Surveillance Program After Expiration Of Patriot Act Provision
Following the expiration of the National Security Agency’s authority to gather bulk telephone metadata under the Patriot Act, the government said that it is now left with restricted tools to fight terrorism.
Although a two-week extension of two less controversial provisions of the Patriot Act was sought by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the move was barricaded by Sen. Rand Paul, who is also running for the Republican presidential campaign, as reported by NBC News.
In a statement, Paul said, “Tonight we stopped the illegal NSA bulk data collection. This is a victory no matter how you look at it. It might be short lived, but I hope that it provides a road for a robust debate, which will strengthen our intelligence community, while also respecting our Constitution.”
NSA’s domestic surveillance programs were first brought to the surface in 2013 after former government contractor Edward J. Snowden disclosed the documents offering evidence of the agency’s practice of gathering phone metadata of American people.
According to The Associated Press, Harley Geiger, senior counsel with the Center for Democracy and Technology, an advocacy group that supports the USA Freedom Act, said that it was because of Snowden that “people have some more insight into exactly how they are being spied upon and how the law has been twisted to authorize mass surveillance of people who have no connection to a crime or terrorism.”
The government lost authority under three provisions of the Patriot Act.
The most significant of these is the provision under Section 215 of the Patriot Act that allows NSA to collect telephone metadata of millions of Americans – to thwart any potential terrorist plans – and store the data for five years.
Secondly, law enforcement officials will not be able to issue a roving wiretap to track terrorists who routinely change their cellphones. The new change will require the officials to issue a new warrant for each new cellphone.
The government will also not be able to use national security tools against “lone wolf” suspects if no connection to any foreign terror organization is established, though the Justice Department confirmed that the move has never been used before.
Senate’s plan to amend the USA Patriot Act was denounced by House backers on Monday afternoon.
In a statement, Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and three other members, said, “These amendments only serve to weaken the House-passed bill and postpone timely enactment of legislation that responsibly protects national security while enhancing civil liberty protections.”
“The House is not likely to accept the changes proposed by Senator McConnell. Section 215 has already expired. These amendments will likely make that sunset permanent. The Senate must act quickly to pass the USA Freedom Act without amendment.”
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Tags:bulk telephone metadatacontroverssial provisions of Patriot ActExpiration Of Patriot Act Provisionformer government contractor Edward SnwodenNational Security Agency surveillance programsSection 215Sen. Rand PaulUSA Patriot Act