The Patriot Act in Policy and the Presidential Campaign | Tobias Gibson

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The Patriot Act in Policy and the Presidential Campaign | Tobias Gibson

The Patriot Act in Policy and the Presidential Campaign

By Tobias Gibson, NSN Non-Resident Fellow
May 28, 2015 | The Hill

Recent developments have all but guaranteed the demise of significant programs of the USA Patriot Act. The history of the act is well-documented, and the sprint to the June 1 deadline has been the subject of front-page news, commentary and presidential election hopes. Many politicians have expressed why they support the renewal of Section 215, the controversial section that the executive branch has interpreted to allow unlimited storage of “metadata.” Other politicians have opined about supposed civil liberties violations due to the government’s storage of this data. Pundits, too, have expressed, concern, support or even indifference about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) metadata collection and storage.

The failure of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get a vote on the renewal was seen as a stain on his leadership. Recent events suggest that compromise is afoot in the Senate, which may lead the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act, in which the data storage is dependent on private cell phone carriers.

Despite what some commentators suggest, the likely demise of Section 215 is of major importance, for at least two reasons. First, failure to renew Section 215 would be the most significant domestic retooling of intelligence since 9/11. As Benjamin Wittes has argued, this may be a precursor to the renewal efforts of Section 702 of the Patriot Act, which would have much larger impact on the national security efforts than does the (publicly known) impact of Section 215. According to Wittes, “[l]etting 215 expire by default, rather than by decision, will send a strong message that the fabric of U.S. intelligence law is not stable and may be altered as a consequence of paralysis and gridlock, rather than as a consequence of deliberation and political leadership.”…

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United States Senator and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C [Gage Skldmore, 2/10/2011]

 

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