An update on the NSA surveillance bills in the Senate.
Let’s talk about the Patriot Act once again.
Legislation that sounds so unabashedly American, it must be doing something illegal.
Recently we reported on the current fight in the Senate over the Patriot Act extensions between Sen. Rand Paul and Washington’s favorite buddy-cop comedy duo of President Obama and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Over the past two weeks, the fight had created a stalemate over NSA surveillance practices.
Well as of last night, three major provisions within the Patriot Act have expired including the controversial Section 215. As you may remember, Section 215 allowed government to obtain business records that they perceived as relevant in an anti-terrorism investigation. Which in the government’s definition allowed organizations like the NSA to collect phone records of every US citizen.
This is good news, because Americans can be rest assured that their vacation photos through text or Facebook are only annoying their friends and family, not the federal government no more!!
Many in the media have actually given much of the credit to Sen. Rand Paul for the Patriot Act provisions not extending. Between his filibuster efforts and his vows of making sure the provisions wouldn’t relapse, Sen. Paul has gotten a fair amount of attention. Both good and bad.
The good is clearly the bump in popularity he’s gotten from the stance he’s taken against the NSA and Patriot Act. The bad however is that he has alienated a large number of Republicans. Party heads like Sen. McConnell and Sen. John McCain have accused him of putting his aspirations of becoming president over the issue of national security.
Though to be fair, after Sen. McCain made those harsh comments about Sen. Paul, he did put on his fur coat, don a garish green hat, and get in his Cadillac to go to the 5th Annual Presidential Haters Ball, where Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Bob Dole, and Michael Dukakis would also be attending. Here’s some exclusive footage from the event!
Yet the most surprising conclusion to all of this could be the fact that the USA Freedom Act – a bill that was originally designed as a compromise to have some restrictions to the Patriot Act, but not eliminate government monitoring completely – could be the piece of legislation that passes. This would be stunning because originally NO ONE wanted that bill! Both sides of the issue felt the bill was giving too much ground to the other side. But now with the Patriot Act revisions having lapsed, surveillance hawks are looking at the USA Freedom Act a lot more kindly, which means it has a very real possibility of passing in the Senate with support from both moderates and those who support federal monitoring!
The potential passage of the USA Freedom Act pretty much encapsulates the US political process as a whole. For surveillance hawks, I imagine this whole process being similar to how you ended up going to prom. First you coveted this ideal date in your mind (extensions to the Patriot Act). Next thing out of nowhere some blowhard (Sen. Rand Paul) comes in to steal your chance because you kept waiting. Then you got desperate and went with any girl that would say yes (USA Freedom Act). Finally your prom night ended with some kind of awkward sexual experience, with you profusely apologizing afterwards (reelection time).
See the system works!
(Photo Credits: Google Images)