A counter-terrorism official says that the NSA will lose its power of domestic phone surveillance tonight at midnight as the Patriot Act expires. However, the surveillance program will likely be reinstated later in the week when the USA Freedom Act passes.
ABC News reports that the domestic surveillance program will “likely” expire tonight as the Patriot Act expires. Richard Clarke, a counter-terrorism official, says that there will be a brief lapse in surveillance authority as the Patriot Act expires and the Freedom Act goes into effect. So what exactly does this mean for the NSA and US citizens?
Clarke says that a lapse in surveillance can be a problem for national security. However, he says it is unlikely to put American citizens at high risk like President Obama is suggesting. Instead, Clarke notes that the NSA and counter-terrorism officials can use other tools like warrants while they wait for the Freedom Act to be passed.
“It probably is not as big a deal as the president is making out.”
According to the Telegraph, the Patriot Act will likely expire as Republicans in Congress have been unable to agree on what should be done with controversial aspects of the bill. Among the items expected to expire is the section known as 215. This is the portion of the Patriot Act that allows government agencies to collect data from millions of phones in the United States.
This aspect of the bill has been controversial in regards to privacy of American citizens. Though the Patriot Act is expiring, that doesn’t mean that the data collection will end. In fact, the USA Freedom Act is set to be passed later in the week, which will give the NSA the ability to collect data once again.
One particularly vocal opponent of the Patriot Act is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul has vowed to end the losses of privacy and overreach by government bodies by ending the Patriot Act and any act that encroaches on personal freedoms. Many have praised Paul’s attempted filibuster of the Patriot Act renewal. The ACLU has backed Paul in this area and says that though he didn’t technically filibuster the act, by speaking for 10 hours straight, he backed the American people.
What do you think of the controversial Patriot Act expiration? Do you think the lack of domestic surveillance capabilities will place American citizens in harm’s way? Do you think the USA Freedom Act will be a better replacement or is it as equally intrusive?
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