Despite the objections of some Republican leaders it appears that some key provisions of the Patriot Act will expire after all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), had insisted that the Patriot Act be passed as is; however, realizing the odds were not in their favor the Senate voted 77-17 to allow a vote on the compromise bill…the USA Freedom Act, later this week.
While the provisions were allowed to expire at midnight Sunday they will likely be renewed as part of the USA Freedom Act which includes those provisions; however, the most controversial of the provisions was overhauled to prevent the bulk collection of telephone data on millions of Americans who are not targets of terrorism investigations. Counter-terrorism officials also lost the authority to use roving wiretaps. Law enforcement officials will be able to continue to use roving wiretaps and collect data from telecommunications companies and other businesses to aid in ongoing investigations. With the overhaul of this provision, Section 215, of the Patriot Act counter-terrorism officials will now have to obtain a specific warrant for a specific target to collect call records from telecommunications companies. Should any changes be made to the bill, it would have to go back to the House for another vote before going back to the Senate.
Some people have claimed that the information made public by Edward Snowden caused this review of our policies, and they may very well be correct. Before Edward Snowden, many people assumed that our government was only interested in watching certain people. Perhaps they assumed those affiliated with certain groups, or ideologies were being targeted, because they were viewed by our government as being extremists, or having anti-government views. What Edward Snowden did was reveal that everyone is being targeted. Our government has even been spying on our allies. So clearly, one does not have to harbor anti-government views to be a target, but simply make a telephone call.
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