Senate May Pass NSA Reform Bill Before Upcoming Recess

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After some pessimism that a deal couldn’t be reached, there is indication in Washington that the Senate may be able to pass its version of the USA FREEDOM Act (UFA) before the coming August recess.

Until the final text of the bill can be examined, all analysis is synthetic, but Senator Patrick Leahy — its sponsor in the upper chamber — has indicated that it will put in place “clear cut guidelines” on what the nation’s intelligence apparatus “can and cannot do.” The Act will also “let the American people know that their privacy is going to be protected,” according to the Senator.

There have been encouraging notes, including a note from a Leahy staffer saying that a deal is “within inches.” I’m hearing that there is some friction on the bill’s terms regarding data retention. A compromise, it seems, is imminent.

The version of the UFA that passed the house was infamous for having been rammed through at the end so quickly after delay that around half its original sponsors in that chamber didn’t vote for the bill.

Protest votes on various funding amendments took place to make some sort of statement, but failed to have much of a larger impact.

All told, NSA reform of some form could in fact happen before recess, and that’s encouraging. If the Senate manages only milquetoast, faux progress, however, it will be a material setback for those in favor of reining in our security apparatus.