The latest version of the USA Freedom Act is still on the boards, representing a big improvement in somewhat limiting NSA bulk surveillance on Americans. It’s not great, but it’s a step in the right direction, which would be more than has happened in decades. That said, never underestimate the ability of people spewing FUD. Senator Saxby Chambliss, one of the biggest kneejerk defenders of the surveillance state, has apparently decided that this minor curtailing of bulk surveillance efforts will help ISIS and therefore we shouldn’t do it.
“If you want to take away the ability to monitor ISIS, then you eliminate the tools that are eliminated in the Leahy bill,” Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a weekend Hill report. “I can’t imagine anybody wanting to do that.”
This is the logic of fear, because it has no basis in reality. Most of the USA Freedom Act is about whether or not the NSA can do bulk collection of records in the US on US persons. It has no impact on Executive Order 12333 where most ISIS surveillance is almost certainly taking place. In short, there’s nothing in the USA Freedom Act that has any real impact on ISIS surveillance.
Basically, you just have surveillance state defenders using the most convenient bogeyman, in this case ISIS, to seek more power for the surveillance state, logic and reality be damned. The whole thing is just a cynical ploy to defend the surveillance state at all costs. But, under that idiotic logic, we might as well do away with the 4th Amendment altogether. Hell, why not just mandate that every human being in the US walk around with a camera and microphone recording everything they say and do — all automatically shipped off to NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade for analysis? That might help stop ISIS. Just like collecting all phone records might. But in all reality it won’t. At all. So it’s a cowardly, shameful FUD suggestion from a cynical Chambliss. He’s not looking out for the American people or their rights. He’s looking out for the surveillance state.
Thankfully, Senator Patrick Leahy (the sponsor of the USA Freedom Act) quickly hit back, though not quite as strongly as he could have:
Leahy himself dismissed such claims.
“We’re always going to face threats,” Leahy said in the report. “The biggest one we can face is the threat to our own liberties and our own privacy.”
That’s a message that doesn’t seem particularly popular among surveillance state defenders.