McConnell v. Snowden
by Tom Sullivan
Passage of the USA Freedom Act does not end the debate about privacy and government spying. It is hardly a speed bump. The FBI surveillance flights reported yesterday demonstrated that. As Digby observed last night, "And just wait until the drone fleet gets going..." The last time the press exposed a fleet of government aircraft operating behind shell corporations, the aircraft were ferrying terrorism suspects to exotic CIA "black sites" or foreign prisons for torture.
BREAKING: Obama signs bill reshaping NSA's phone records program, renewing powers that had expired.— The Associated Press (@AP) June 3, 2015
But the debate in the Senate over the Patriot Act was not about that. What Dan Froomkin wrote last week about the Patriot Act debate and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell bears repeating:
Anybody paying attention knows it’s not a policy debate. The reasons McConnell and others cite for wanting to extend the program as is — despite the fact that it’s flatly illegal, essentially useless, and spectacularly invasive — are laughable. In fact, the compromise they’re willing to fight to the death to oppose was actually proposed by the NSA.
The issue is they just don’t want Snowden officially vindicated, by an act of Congress.
That is to say, they damned well don't care that what's being done is illegal. They only care that it got exposed. Which is something, I guess. Wall Street doesn't even care that much.
The Republican "meltdown" over failure to renew the Patriot Act included what Sen. Barbara Boxer described on All In with Chris Hayes last night as a temper tantrum by McConnell. The Senate Majority leader even committed a messaging faux pas by repeating a headline calling his failure "a resounding victory for Edward Snowden." Bad move.
The Guardian this morning calls the reforms' passage a vindication for Snowden. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden noted that more needs to be done:
“This is the only beginning. There is a lot more to do,” Wyden told reporters after the vote. “We’re going to have very vigorous debate about the flawed idea of the FBI director to require companies to build weaknesses into their products. We’re going to try to close the backdoor search loophole – this is part of the Fisa Act and is going to be increasingly important, because Americans are going to have their emails swept up increasingly as global communications systems begin to merge.”
He also pointed to a proposal in the House “to make sure government agencies don’t turn cell phones of Americans into tracking devices” as another target for NSA reformers.
Meantime, watch the skies.