Toothless USA FREEDOM Act Losing Support
NSA Champion Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI)
The USA FREEDOM Act (HR 3361), which is supposedly designed to thwart the US government’s mass spying program, appears to be confirming RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams’ warning from September: “beware NSA spying and beware the PATRIOT Act and beware FISA reauthorizations. But most of all...keep your eyes on the reformers!”
The stench from the USA FREEDOM Act has grown so obvious that privacy-related interest groups are renouncing their support of the bill after the bill, which had already passed through the committee approval process, was revised Tuesday to gain the Obama administration’s support. It is becoming harder by the day to have faith the legislation is even a small step toward greater respect for freedom.
Even before the revisions this week, it was easy to be suspicious of the legislation’s strength to control government spying just from the fact that it passed unanimously in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees of the United States House of Representatives. Together, the committees have fifty-nine members.
We are familiar with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) as the fellow who joked with former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden about working together to kill NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Rogers also claimed French people should have been “applauding and popping champagne corks” when they learned of the US government’s monitoring of tens of millions of French telephone calls.
Former Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who is famed for his sponsorship of the USA PATRIOT Act, is the sponsor of the eerily similarly named USA FREEDOM Act. Channeling Captain Renault’s line from Casablanca that “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Sensenbrenner sponsored the USA FREEDOM Act after exclaiming he was shocked to discover his USA PATRIOT Act had been used to justify mass spying. Sensenbrenner remains a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Maybe a little over ten years from now Sensenbrenner will throw up his hands in shock and say that he cannot believe the government is using the USA FREEDOM Act to violate people's rights. Then he can sponsor, with Rogers’ support, the USA JUSTICE Act.