Patriot Act provisions expire after Senate fails to approve extension
Section 215, which enabled bulk collection of phone, Internet and business records is no longer in effect, but will this really mean the end of massive surveillance program?
Let’s be honest, the NSA will not stop spying on Americas or American allies. With or without the Patriot Act in effect, the military industrial complex will continue its attempt to completely take over our lives.
Although in theory the Patriot Act expired last night, I simply cannot see the NSA or any other American spying agency shutting down their surveillance machinery for a day or two or until the Obama administration manages to incite enough fear to force the US Congress to approve the law that opened the door for mass data collection.
Even if the Patriot Act was not renewed, I still don’t see the NSA and the rest of the spying apparatus switching off their massive computers to allow Americans and the rest of the world live free from 24/7 surveillance. It is necessary to remember that the spying machine was pretty much alive even before the NSA came to exist and even before the Patriot Act was approved by the US Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks,
For now though, the US Senate has managed to let the Patriot Act expire for an undetermined time, and has advanced the ‘US Freedom Act’, a bill that in theory eliminates the massive collection of data by the National Agency Security, but that supposedly ensure monitoring mechanisms aimed at combating terrorism.
The ‘Patriot Act’ has expired and, at least theoretically and temporarily has no effect. After an unusual meeting last night, the US Senate got 77 votes in favor and 17 against the renewal of the legislation, but at the same time it allows the House of Representatives the Freedom Act draft legislation passed by their colleagues.
Right now the application of domestic surveillance that operated under the so-called ‘Patriot Act’, has no effect and that is to a great extent to the work from Republican Senator Rand Paul, who blocked several attempts to renew the unconstitutional law so that it would have a short extension.
Many lawmakers compromised with the establishment that governs over Washington have expressed their concern and so has the president of the United States, Barack Obama. The theory behind their concern is that they believe the US is vulnerable because the Patriot Act is not in effect, which means the NSA and other spy agencies cannot carry out massive illegal surveillance sweeps.
In this sense, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John Brennan, has stressed the importance of collecting these data. Without the data, he says, the government may not get important alerts about major attacks against the United States. This position is preposterous as many active and retired intelligence agents have explained in multiple cases that no relevant intelligence has been gathered from massive surveillance programs. What has been collected in large amounts has been the private information generated by telecomunication companies whose clients have been spied on by the NSA for years.
The White House has issued a statement on Sunday night asking the Senate not to delay the implementation of the monitoring program. According to legislative rules, it will be until Tuesday when the US Freedom Act may be fully approved, which would extends the current monitoring program for six months, but with heavier regulation of the massive collection powers held by the NSA up until Sunday evening.
The US Freedom Act, which was already approved by the House of Representatives provides for the end of the massive spying over telephone data and replaces it with a more selective system .
In the House the bill was approved by a large majority thanks in part to support from the White House and ultimately the Senate has also secured approval after exceeding 60 votes, the minimum required to approve any legislation. One of the main opponents of the renewal of the ‘Patriot Act’, as it is designed, has been Senator and presidential candidate for Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul.
Paul and other members of the liberty cause in the United States have criticized the Patriot Act, because in their view is a “disproportionate interference in the private lives of citizens”. He acknowledged that the US Freedom Act bill would be approved with the restrictions detailed above, but refused to extend, even for a short time, the previous data collection system of the NSA.
The big loser of this fight has been Micht McConnell, leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, who has not got the votes to allow the ‘Patriot Act’ to be extended which is what the majority of establishment politicians wanted to do.