USA Freedom Act fails to clear Senate, CIA and NSA surveillance continues unfettered

The USA Freedom Act fell two votes short of getting an attempt to pass the Senate
By Matt Bradwell  |  Nov. 19, 2014 at 9:15 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The USA Freedom Act, an attempt to reform and curtail government surveillance, failed to reach the 60 vote threshold necessary to pass the Senate, effectively killing the proposed legislation for the current session.

The Senate voted 58-42 to bring the USA Freedom Act to the floor, two shy of the required 60 votes.

"I am disappointed by tonight's vote, but I am not new to this fight," Vermont Senator and co-sponsor Pat Leahy wrote in a statement.

"Tonight, Senate Republicans have failed to answer the call of the American people who elected them, and all of us, to stand up and to work across the aisle. Once again, they reverted to scare tactics rather than to working productively to protect Americans' basic privacy rights and our national security."

Opponents of USA Freedom Act felt it undermined U.S. national security amidst global volatility.

"Proponents say this change is necessary to allay fears that the NSA could use telephone metadata to construct an electronic portrait of an American citizen's communications, and determine whether that person has, say, consulted a psychiatrist, or called someone elses' spouse," wrote former head of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden in a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-penned by Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

"However, only 22 people at the NSA are permitted access to metadata, and only upon a showing of relevance to a national-security investigation, and they are barred from any data-mining whatsoever even in connection with such an investigation. They are overseen by a Madisonian trifecta of the FISA court, the executive and committees of Congress. Those people and everyone else at the NSA live in constant dread of failing to detect a terrorist attack. Nonetheless, the sponsors of the USA Freedom Act prefer the counsel of hypothetical fears to the logic of concrete realities."

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