By Jake Laperruque
For the last year and a half, government surveillance and NSA monitoring have generated one of the most intense discussions in the country. The Snowden disclosures have not only brought the surveillance debate to the front page, congressional hearings, and the campaign trail, but have also significantly impacted public opinion: Most Americans believe that NSA practices have gone too far, and need to be reined in. Now Congress needs to act to reform these surveillance practices — but time is running out.
Throughout most of 2014, lawmakers steadily worked towards this goal. This summer, the USA FREEDOM Act — which would enact significant reforms by ending bulk collection programs, enhancing transparency, and improving proceedings in the secret FISA Court — was approved by the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees with strong support. The bill was significantly watered down prior to a vote before the full House floor (where it received strong support), but was reintroduced in the Senate with significant improvements. The legislation seemed primed for passage, but suddenly the momentum halted, with the Senate failing to take action on the bill this fall. Now, if the USA FREEDOM Act doesn’t receive a Senate vote in the post-election lame duck session, NSA reform will be forced to go back to step one when the new Congress convenes in 2015. [Read more…] about Whatever Happened to NSA Reform?