Once Opposed, Key Lawmakers Back New Anti-NSA Bill

The bill, penned by the congressman who drafted the Patriot Act, will drop next week. And it could have the votes to pass.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., will introduce the USA Freedom Act, designed to curb NSA surveillance, next week.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
Oct. 25, 2013, 1:27 p.m.

The primary spon­sor of the Pat­ri­ot Act will in­tro­duce a bill next week aimed at rein­ing in the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s do­mest­ic-sur­veil­lance pro­grams, backed by about 60 co­spon­sors, in­clud­ing at least a half dozen who voted against a sim­il­ar, nar­rowly de­feated meas­ure brought to the House floor this sum­mer.

A date has not been fi­nal­ized, but the Free­dom Act, writ­ten by Rep. Jim Sensen­bren­ner, R-Wis., could drop as early as Tues­day. It fol­lows an amend­ment in­tro­duced by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that failed by a razor-thin 205-217 mar­gin in Ju­ly.

“Six mem­bers who voted no and two who didn’t vote on the Amash amend­ment are ori­gin­al co­spon­sors of the USA Free­dom Act,” Sensen­bren­ner spokes­man Ben Miller told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “Had they voted for the amend­ment, it would have passed 213 to 211.”

Reps. Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if., Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., are among those law­makers who voted no on the Amash amend­ment and are now co­spon­sor­ing Sensen­bren­ner’s le­gis­la­tion.

“Rather than de­fund­ing, Con­gress­man Terry has al­ways be­lieved that changes to the Pat­ri­ot Act are the ap­pro­pri­ate way to rein in the NSA,” said spokes­man Larry Farns­worth of Terry’s switch.

Sensen­bren­ner, who au­thored the Pat­ri­ot Act, has be­come a vo­cal op­pon­ent of the NSA’s sweep­ing sur­veil­lance ap­par­at­us since Ed­ward Snowden, a former ana­lyst at the agency, began leak­ing in­form­a­tion about its pro­grams earli­er this year. Sensen­bren­ner has said that both the Obama and Bush ad­min­is­tra­tions have mis­in­ter­preted a key part of the Pat­ri­ot Act, Sec­tion 215, and used it as leg­al back­ing for its data col­lec­tion.

“The NSA has gone far bey­ond the in­tent of the Pat­ri­ot Act, par­tic­u­larly in the ac­cu­mu­la­tion and stor­age of metadata,” Sensen­bren­ner told Na­tion­al Journ­al earli­er this month. “Had Con­gress known that the Pat­ri­ot Act had been used to col­lect metadata, the bill would have nev­er been passed.”

An earli­er draft of Sensen­bren­ner’s bill that cir­cu­lated pub­licly would make the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court more trans­par­ent by re­quir­ing it dis­close some of its de­cisions and in­stall an “of­fice of the spe­cial ad­voc­ate,” which would be able to ap­peal the court’s de­cisions. It would also lim­it Sec­tion 702 of the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act, grant the Pri­vacy and Civil Liber­ties Over­sight Board sub­poena powers on mat­ters of pri­vacy and na­tion­al se­cur­ity, and re­duce the bulk data col­lec­tion out­line in Sec­tion 215 of the Pat­ri­ot Act.

Since Amash’s at­tempt to re­strict the NSA’s col­lec­tion of phone re­cords was de­feated, the cas­cade of rev­el­a­tions about the scope of the NSA’s spy­ing — both do­mest­ic and over­seas — has con­tin­ued since then. Earli­er this week, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel charged the U.S. with mon­it­or­ing her cell phone, for­cing Pres­id­ent Obama to play dam­age con­trol with yet an­oth­er for­eign head of state.

The Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee is also ex­pec­ted to vote Tues­day be­hind closed doors on le­gis­la­tion brought by com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., and Vice Chair­man Saxby Cham­b­liss, R-Ga., to ap­pease sur­veil­lance crit­ics by in­creas­ing trans­par­ency and ac­count­ab­il­ity of FISA. Many act­iv­ists charge that Fein­stein’s ef­forts do not go far enough and largely keep the NSA sur­veil­lance ap­par­at­us in tact.

What We're Following See More »
ANNOUNCEMENT ON FRIDAY
Rep. O’Rourke to Challenge Cruz
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS
EVEN AS FORMER AIDE IS SENTENCED TO PRISON
Christie to Take Lead on Opioid Issue
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS
SOME MEMBERS TOLD TO STAY IN PLACE
Shooting Reported Near Capitol
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS
TOP-TO-BOTTOM RESTRUCTURING
Perez Asks for Mass Resignations at DNC
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has launched a major overhaul of the party's organization, which has been stung by recent crises—and the DNC has requested resignation letters from all current staffers." The move is somewhat expected when a new chairman takes over, but Perez views it as "part of a top-to-bottom review process to decide not only who will stay and who will go, but how the party should be structured in the future."

Source:
ALSO PROBING WHETHER HE’S DONATING PROFITS
GAO Will Look into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Visits
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

At the behest of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tom Udall (D-NM), the Government Accountability Office has said it's starting a probe of "security costs associated with" President Trump's frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago. The investigation is expected to include looking into the security measures at the club. "The government watchdog will also look into whether Trump is keeping his promise to take any profits made at his hotels from foreign governments and transfer them to the U.S. Treasury."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login