Reports coming from Capitol Hill indicate that the much heralded NSA reform bill will not even come up for consideration in Congress. Multiple congressional sources report that the Senate version USA Freedom Act simply doesn’t rise high enough on the priority chart to move forward.
In what it calls a “stinging setback,” the National Journal reports that despite broad support from both sides of the political aisle, and even a ringing endorsement from NSA head James Clapper, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s reform bill has little chance of seeing the light of day before the November elections, or even in the lame duck session afterward.
The hard-fought bill has a wide array of backing from tech companies, privacy and civil-liberties groups, the White House, and even the intelligence community. But multiple sources both on and off Capitol Hill say the measure is not a top legislative priority on a jam-packed Senate calendar filled with other agenda items, including unresolved fights over a continuing resolution and the Import-Export Bank.
The article indicates that the bill lacks support from “defense hawks” like Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, and Sen. Harry Reid seems disinclined to “shepherd the complicated bipartisan bill through the chamber so close to midterm elections.”
Even some reform advocates privately conceded that the political calculus to pass a bill perceived as weakening the intelligence agencies is unfavorable at a time when national security concerns are rising in the Middle East and elsewhere.
None of this should come as any surprise. After all, Congress has had nearly 40 years to reform the NSA. Sen. Frank Church warned us about the NSA way back in 1975:
“Th[e National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
It should be pretty clear at this point: Congress will never substantially reform the NSA. If you plan on waiting for the political class in Washington D.C. to protect your privacy, you will likely find yourself still waiting 40 more years from now. Depending on Congress to fix the NSA has about as much chance of success as counting on Santa Clause.
It’s time for a different approach!
The spy-state will not pay attention to your phone calls, it will not respond your rallies. It will not fix itself because you scream loud enough. Real reform will only happen by pushing D.C. from the bottom up. We have to get the NSA’s attention by boxing it in and making it difficult, if not impossible, for it to continue violating your rights.
Through state action, we can do it!
Join OffNow and help make it happen.