McClatchy reports: The bipartisan bill that aims to put serious curbs on the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ communications is being hailed by Republicans and Democrats as a big breakthrough.
“The bottom line: This is largely faux reform and a surveillance salve,” said Thomas Drake, a former NSA senior official turned whistle-blower who’s critical of the agency’s collection programs. “To date, neither the House nor Senate attempts go far enough.”
That’s not easy to discern, thanks to an outpouring of raves for the legislation. Democrats, Republicans and traditionally skeptical watchdog groups have put their muscle behind the USA Freedom Act.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on its version of the bill next week, the first time since news about the surveillance broke last year that major legislation supported by top congressional leaders like this has come to the floor. The Senate might take up its own version as early as this summer.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee even issued a joint statement praising the bipartisan cooperation, a rarely seen trait around Congress these days.
But peek just past all the good will and there’s serious concern that Congress has much more to do. Not only are loopholes easy to find but also the government has other ways of collecting the data. [Continue reading…]