While most Americans were following the fake impeachment hearings Congress was quietly reauthorizing the 2001 Patriot Act. Without action it would have expired in December. Yes, enough House Democrats joined Republicans to keep it in play at least until March, 2020.
There was no appetite to eliminate Section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act, probably one of the most controversial elements of the Act. Section 215 authorizes mass phone – including text messages – records collection by the NSA.
Section 215 allows the FBI to ask for a court order to obtain “any tangible things,” including books, records, papers, and documents, related to a terrorism investigation, and it served as the foundation for the National Security Agency’s massive collection of telephone records for several years.
The 2015 USA Freedom Act failed to prevent wholesale surveillance according to data collected from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In 2017, NSA collected 534 million telephone records, triple the number in 2016.
NSA reportedly halted telephone metadata collection in 2018, but as long as Section 215 remains intact, large-scale collection could be resurrected at any time. Who trusts NSA anyway?
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has a Patriot Act “overhaul” bill that isn’t going anywhere in the Senate so long as Sen. Mitch McConnell is running the show.
The most disappointing votes came from “ultra-progressive” House freshmen – including Cortez, Omar, et al. – who all voted FOR bringing the Senate bill over for a vote in the House. This procedural vote probably made them a lot of money for the 2020 election, and enabled them to vote no on the final floor (show) vote. But this is how the game in Washington, D.C. is played; fraud and deception at every step.
NSA has, through bulk records collection, swept up the personal records of millions of innocent people. Millions more will likely be spied on before anything changes for the better. The “ratchet” only moves in one direction, and that is toward the right, and in the direction of more authoritarian action by government at all levels. Fasten your chinstraps for more of the same.