Congress Finally Agrees On Something — Doing Nothing
A small victory for the good guys. With some help from the not-so-good guys. Barring a last-minute compromise when the Senate returns to session on May 31st, a controversial provision of the Patriot Act authorizing the NSA collection of phone records will sunset on that date. (A federal appeals court has already ruled that the Section 215 phone collection does not comply with the law but stayed the ruling pending congressional . . . action?) From the NYT,
The failure to act means the NSA will immediately begin curtailing its searches of domestic phone records for connections to international terrorists. The Justice Department said in a statement that it will take time to taper off the collection process from the phone companies. That process began Friday, said an administration official who would not be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Adding “the phone records program has never been credited with thwarting a terrorist plot.” So in addition to being an outrage, this massive data gathering is the worst kind of police work, making Americans less safe. Last month an angry postal worker landed his gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol lawn unimpeded, despite having notified the Secret Service of his plans to do so. (Daily Show — Wack Hawk Down) Fortunately, he was only delivering some strongly-worded letters.
So if you see former R.I. state rep and Dose creator Dave Segal around town this week give him a big thumbs up. His advocacy group Demand Progress has been working assiduously to sunset the Patriot Act. Segal makes it clear that there is much more to be done. (Ask Dave about the Rand Paul filibuster — he was there.)
And make no mistake, none of this would be happening absent the heroic actions of Edward Snowden.