On June 1, 2015, two controversial provisions of the so-called "Patriot" Act, Secs. 206 & 215 will expire without Congressional action. An additional provision from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA), Sec. 6001, is set to expire as well.
In the aftermath of yesterday's cloture vote on the USA FREEDOM Act, which would have extended these provisions until 2017, civil libertarians must make our stand in 2015 to rein in the surveillance state.
And it's our best opportunity to not only sunset these expiring provisions, but also to push for broader changes.
This isn't some pipe dream.
Before the vote yesterday, Rep. James Sensenbrenner told The Guardian,
“Senators obstructing passage of the USA Freedom Act risk losing Section 215 altogether. Section 215 sunsets next June, and given the administration’s staggering misinterpretation of the law, the House is highly unlikely to reauthorize it absent significant reforms.”
The article goes on to say,
Sensenbrenner’s Democratic colleague on the House judiciary committee, Zoe Lofgren of California, said the House would be “hard-pressed” next year to find the votes for saving Section 215 should the USA Freedom Act fail.
Lofgren suggested that a House scorned over the USA Freedom Act would not be receptive to FBI entreaties to renew its “extraordinary powers” that “many believe unconstitutional”.
If the USA Freedom Act, already criticised as an insufficient reform, cannot be passed, “falling back to the fourth amendment is not a bad outcome,” Lofgren said.
Even Dianne Feinstein said as much on the Senate floor yesterday before voting for the USA FREEDOM Act, notes Trevor Trimm at The Guardian.
“If we do not pass the bill, we will lose this program,” Feinstein said. While she spent half her speech agreeing with Republicans about Isis and 9/11 and the rest of their fearmongering parade, Feinstein made clear that the writing is on the wall for the controversial mass surveillance program the Snowden revealed in that very first NSA story in the Guardian.
So, advocates for reining in the surveillance state have two options here: wallow in the misery of defeat, or pick themselves up and prepare for an all-out fight over the "Patriot" Act sunsets in 2015.
Campaign for Liberty will continue to push for repealing the so-called "Patriot" Act and to restore American's civil liberties.