OK

Regarding the headline of this post: Are we surprised? Are we disgusted? Are we numb?

Or, will you "cheer" the passage of this bill, as if it really accomplishes anything substantive, when/if it happens?

Here's this evening's latest from journalist and blogger Marcy Wheeler, the person considered by many, including Newsweek Magazine, to be the most highly-regarded observer throughout the blogosphere when it comes to reporting upon the actions of our national security state and the pathetically captured U.S. government that is responsible for sucking up to watching over it...


Mike Rogers: USA Freedom Act Only Changes Phone Dragnet
Published May 16, 2014 | By emptywheel

In my analysis of the HR 3361 — hailed by reformers as the USA Freedom Act — I have posited the possibility that the claim to forbid “bulk collection” across a number of authorities actually changes almost nothing. I based that on a two-part argument...

First, the bill only promises to eliminate bulk collection as the intelligence committee defines it — that is, it only eliminates collection that has no discriminator, and therefore collects all of a certain kind of record (so, all phone records). It does not promise to eliminate what you and I might consider bulk collection — the collection of very untargeted information (say, all phone records in the 202 Area Code)…

…If this logic is correct, then the bill changes very little, in spite of the broad promises.

In his report on the bill, Mike Rogers confirms that I am right. (h/t Katherine Hawkins)

It notes that the prohibition on “bulk” collection only applies to indiscriminate collection, but not to the collection of “a large number of communications records or other tangible things.”…

...The Committee’s decision to end the bulk collection of telephone metadata does not extend to any other intelligence programs currently conducted under FISA, including access to business records through Section 215 for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence purposes, and the targeting of persons outside the United States under Section 702.
The report also makes clear that any ban on bulk NSL collection is not meant to affect any ongoing NSL program…

… This means the government has the ability to obtain far more than 5 years of call data on selected targets, and can do so by obtaining any records that transit AT&T backbones, because AT&T keeps records for years and years. While there is a 5 year age off requirement in the bill, that only applies to data that is not relevant to an investigation, and as we’ve learned, everything can be deemed relevant to an investigation.

So don’t take my word for it, take Mike Rogers’ (which will serve as the legislative record in any case)…


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