Senate Intelligence Panel Approves NSA Bill That Improves Transparency And Not Much Else

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Senate Intelligence Panel Approves NSA Bill That Improves Transparency And Not Much Else
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Ever since the Snowden leaks revealed that the NSA was collecting Americans’ phone records en masse, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has been the agency’s number one cheerleader. She has consistently argued that the collection of phone records was legal and even proposed a bill that would make that collection legal under law instead of just a court decision. Now she’s one step closer to realizing her dream of an NSA that’s fully protected by the law.

The Hill reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has passed Feinstein’s bill – the FISA Improvements Act – in a 11-4 vote. The bill would improve transparency regarding the NSA and the FISA court, but not much else. It would also prohibit the NSA from using its vast collection of phone numbers for anything other than terrorism, but it doesn’t change the fact that the agency would still have access to every Americans’ phone records. In short, Feinstein’s bill covers the NSA’s ass, but doesn’t wipe it.

In its defense, Feinstein said that she and her committee did everything they could to make the NSA more trustworthy:

“We’ve tried very hard to put together a bipartisan bill that improves transparency, improves privacy, has more public reporting, has more checks and we’ve done it to the best we can. And we’ve got a good solid two-thirds vote of the committee.”

As you would expect, nobody is really buying it. One of the four who voted agains it – Sen. Mark Udall – said that the Committee’s bill “does not go far enough to address the NSA’s overreaching domestic surveillance programs.” He went on further to say that the agency “needs fundamental reform – not incidental changes.”

Outside of the Committee, there’s already a movement to pass a more robust bill in the Senate that would not only knock the NSA down a peg, but it would also reform the FISA court in some important ways. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced the USA FREEDOM Act earlier this week to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records as well as put strict limits on the agency’s collection of Internet records under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

Besides Leahy and his 16 co-sponsors in the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden has also come forward saying that he’ll do everything in his power to stop what he calls “skin deep” reforms. In other words, he wants to make sure that bills like Feinstein’s are never passed. Interestingly enough, however, Wyden was not one of the co-sponsors on Leahy’s bill. It’s hard to say why he hasn’t thrown his name in to support the USA FREEDOM Act, but it’s likely that he’ll speak up about it soon.

In the end, what’s done is done. Feinstein managed to get her bill approved by the Committee she oversees. That was the easy part though. The hard part is just beginning as she now has to contend with a full Congress that doesn’t very much appreciate what the NSA has been doing.

[Image: Dianne Feinstein/Facebook]

Senate Intelligence Panel Approves NSA Bill That Improves Transparency And Not Much Else
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  • http://www.coxepropertymanagementandleasing.com/ New Orleans Property Manager

    now will see how this will goes ..

  • Nosy People

    When this country becomes a fully functional police state, you can thank Diane Feinstein. Between the Patriot Acts, CISPA, and the Prism program — we are in trouble as a nation. All Americans should research these three things before it is too late — if it isn’t already too late.

    Honestly, does anyone really think professional terrorists are emailing their plans and using twitter? Really? Last week, a plain flew from Ontario to Tennessee (even though it was never meant to leave Canada), crashed, and no one noticed it for 6 hours. There are so many ways we could be attacked and if terrorists were really plotting and here in the United States, we would be having attacks every day of the week. That simply is not happening.

    All of the domestic spying program is about controlling American citizens.

  • Unites States in 2013

    – We have 5% of the world population but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
    – No-warrant wire taps.
    – Indefinite detention of citizens without charges.
    – Approval of rendition of prisoners and torture.
    – Stop and frisk without probable cause.
    – Search and seizure without a warrant.
    – No-knock entry.
    – Confiscation and destruction of cameras that film police acting illegally.
    – Police brutality and police shootings that go without investigation.
    – Managed news.
    – The civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.
    – FEMA camps.
    – TSA expansion beyond airports.
    – Internet entrapment cases.
    – People going to prison for crimes against fictitious people who do not even exist.
    – Major increase in victimless crimes in the US.
    – Cameras on every street corner.
    – The NSA program.
    – RFID program push

    All this was put in place since 9/11. My how we have chanced and none of this impacts terrorists. It is about you the American citizen.

  • MadMan

    I tell you what Dianne Feinstein: if the insatiable need of the American Intelligence (oxymoron) Community takes precedence over the constitution (that all senators, and indeed any employee of any arm of the government, are sworn to uphold) then please get in touch.
    I’ll gladly send you a photograph of my “junk” so as not to impede your quest to “find all information, pertinent or not, about everything and everyone by any means, legal or not”.
    If you personally are not prepared to take me up on my offer of “full disclosure”, both you and the information whores that you are supporting can kiss my a$$ and stay the f#ck out of my life.
    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, NSA power is in a yet to be named league of its own!!

  • Jon

    Quote: “NSA was collecting Americans’ phone records en masse”

    Ohh is that all the problem is?

    Well excuse me!

    What about phone tapping a allies democratic leaders telephone!!!!!!! ( Germany ??? )

    What a US centric opening shot for an article – so sorry that US citizens are being tapped by a US institution but what about foreign citizens in a democratic country deemed an ally of the US?

    The very tone of this article hits the main problem – the US population only seems to be interested in internal issues whilst their government happily gets up to all kinds of dirty tricks abroad.

    The US treats its allies like enemies sometimes, it pays scant regard to foreign sovereignty whilst proclaiming its own endevours to protect sovereignty as being of a noble nature ( See operation “noble eagle” and then reflect on drone strikes on Pakistan territory – that just makes me sick – talk about double standards ).

    The US has lost its way and is no longer a moral pointer for the rest of the world – Shape up America! You are destined to fall from being the 1st power in the world and you need to start treating your friends as friends an equals before you find everyone has made friends with someone else!

    • meaux mcdonald

      Bravo, Jon!

  • Schools are Out of Touch

    Transparency improved? If it wasn’t for Snowden, we would not have even known about the NSA program. It would have gone on for years undetected. They were never going to tell the American public and we trust them to be transparent now?

  • State of Denial

    America is in a collective state of denial about what really happened on 9/11. We are even denying it now as all our rights are literally being taken away by those in power. 9/11 was simply a power grab. An excuse to clamp down on the masses.

    People are waking up though. Every year, more people see the huge holes in the official story. Why do you think people are so angry in this nation? Over a bad economy? We have had those before. No, what it really is going on is that on some level, they know what 9/11 was all about. They know the country got hijacked on that day.

    You know what? The rest of the world knows too.

  • http://cass-hacks.com Craig Schultz

    Feinstein was upset that the NSA was spying on allied government leaders but is in favor of collecting data and spying on US citizens????

    She must be having a “Senior moment” although it seems like it is more than just a “moment”.

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