Here’s what the NSA reform is really about
Edward Snowden said it himself on Monday, as some of the NSA’s most ardent defenders, including the House Intelligence Committee and the White House, suddenly released similar proposals endorsing the end of the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records as we know it. But what does this really mean in regards to our privacy and rights?
Sure the government states they are limiting the amount of information they collect and save, but if you read between the legislative lines, the government might not be curtailing mass surveillance so much as permanently entrenching it in American law.
Rep Justin Amash, one of the NSA’s leading critics in the House, said of the Intelligence Committee bill: “It doesn’t end bulk collection but actually puts more Americans in danger of having their constitutionally protected rights violated.”
Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union has several important questions about the proposal that need to be answered before anyone will really be able to judge. And the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez detailed why neither of these proposalsare as good as the USA Freedom Act, which may now be getting boxed out.
But the fact is that neither proposal will actually end the surveillance. And all in congress knows this. So the truth is that the End Bulk Collection Act is just a farce.
A large part of the legislation focuses on new ways for the government to collect data from “electronic communications service providers” – also known as the internet companies.
If this bill is supposed to stop collection of data, why then is it necessary to collect internet data? In other words, they back off of phone calls and turn to the internet for data. Also the legislation puts a stop to legal challenges to the right to collect and store the data.
But according to the White House plan, which appears shady too, the agency would need a new court order before every search. Obama’s plan: the NSA would only be allowed to search phone records under the Obama proposal if the agency could prove a reasonable suspicion to terrorism.
Yet at the end of the week, that all changed as the new plan would allow the NSA would be able to search “within two hops” of phone records – that’s potentially tens of thousands of people – based on a phrase that should send chills down the spine of every journalist who has ever had a source the government may not like: “national security concerns”.
Still, nothing is mentioned of the left out proposals that would prevent “backdoor” warrantless searches on Americans. Like stopping the NSA from undermining common encryption used by everyone. And look at the sponsors of the bill – House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, one of the authors, has been sliming Snowden as a Russian agent for months, despite absolutely no proof. Rep Peter King, another sponsor, has called for the NSA journalists prosecuted. House speaker John Boehner, who has fought tooth and nail against NSA reform ever reaching the House floor, is suddenly “praising” the “bipartisan” bill. And after months of desperately defending it as his brainchild, all of a sudden NSA chief Keith Alexander now says he supports the new proposal to “end” bulk collection.
Why the sudden change? Something doesn’t smell right here folks. Also the White House is demanding quick action, as some of the key players as soon to retire. It’s also been rumored the House Intelligence Committee will mark its bill up and send it to the House floor as early as next week, which will effectively box out the USA Freedom Act.
This is all happening with astounding speed and is now all of a sudden being spearheaded by the players in both parties who have repeatedly misled the American public over the past 10 months.
So much for transparency, as both parties are crooked to the core. Both sides are trying to push this legislation through.