Dan Roberts and Ben Jacobs of The Guardian on Patriot Act powers scheduled to lapse at midnight as Senate fails to agree on NSA reform:
Republican senator Rand Paul forced at least a temporary shutdown of sweeping US surveillance powers on Sunday night after refusing to allow an accelerated vote on compromise legislation designed to more narrowly restrain the National Security Agency.
In a double blow for Washington security hawks, represented by embattled Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, it now looks likely that Congress will have to wait several days before passing that bill, the USA Freedom Act.
The reform legislation, which bans the NSA from collecting Americans’ telephone records in bulk, was initially opposed by McConnell. But with the clock ticking down toward the midnight expiration of broader powers initially granted after 9/11 under the Patriot Act, Republican leaders had few options but to get behind the bill as the best way of preserving other surveillance authority.
Allowing the Patriot Act section 215 program to lapse at midnight is a good thing and the right way ahead for America. We need to get out from under this “oh, but the terrorists,” mantra. As is always quoted when having this discussion, “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
We cannot allow the government to run these terribly ineffective programs under the guise of safety for the country. Even if the NSA could somehow demonstrate their effectiveness, which to-date they have been unable to do, there is no reason to allow the government to have an ineffective yet highly intrusive programs in the name of the war on terror.