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Progressives Betray Struggle Against Surveillance State

A struggle of some consequence is now being waged in Congress to keep on life support the NSA’s massive spying on the American people.   And in this struggle the progressives (aka liberals) are engaged in a massive betrayal of all they profess to believe in.   Instead too many of them are scurrying about attacking Rand Paul, the libertarian, anti-interventionist, Republican Senator who is leading the charge against the Bush/Obama spying program.  Among other things Senator Paul has engaged in a filibuster to stop this nefarious program.  So far he has been successful.

Let us try to make the crucial events in Congress as simple and crystal clear as possible.  There are two pieces of legislation that were before the Senate last week.

The first is the Patriot Act itself, Section 215 of which, in the government’s secret interpretation, allowed the NSA to vacuum up data on virtually every piece of electronic communication by every American and indeed everyone on the planet.  This secret interpretation and use of 215 came to light only when the heroic Edward Snowden blew his whistle.  Such massive spying has already been declared illegal by a recent opinion of the Second Circuit Court, although the NSA ignores this ruling.  The Patriot Act is due to expire on June 1, and Obama is desperate to keep its essentials alive.  Since the government has not been able to produce any convincing data that such surveillance has protected the U.S., one might well ask why Obama is so frantic, almost hysterical, to keep it alive.  Why indeed.

The second is a “reform” of the Patriot Act, called the “USA Freedom Act,” proposed by Obama and company.  However, the USA Freedom Act is not different in its essentials from the original Patriot Act.  One “difference” is that the telephone and Internet companies will hold the data rather than the government itself, and then the government will vacuum it up from those companies.  A distinction without a difference, to be sure.  Here is what the ACLU has to say about the “USA Freedom Act”:

“This bill would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision – the material-support provision – would represent a significant step backwards,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. “The disclosures of the last two years make clear that we need wholesale reform.”

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