The NSA and its surveillance state supporters in the Senate are making a last ditch effort to prevent Congress from taking away any of the spy agency’s authority to snoop on innocent Americans, despite the fact that there is now broad support for NSA reform in Congress.
Earlier this week, the House overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill designed – at least so its authors hope – to end the surveillance program of every American’s phone records that Edward Snowden first exposed in June 2013. The bill passed by a huge margin, partially buoyed by the fact that a recent court opinion makes it virtually impossible for the NSA to continue as is. As Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first broke the Edward Snowden story, noted after the bill passed, the vote is a significant moment. It’s the “first time since 9/11 that powers justified in the name of terrorism will be reduced rather than increased.”
But unfortunately it also passed because the bill is so weak, it was hard for many to object to it. Intelligence officials told the Daily Beast’s Shane Harris that they can more than live with USA Freedom Act, calling it a “a big win” compared to what it could have been. Another unidentified former official said: “The NSA is coming out of this unscathed.”