Looks like the National Security Agency isn’t ready to wrap up its controversial telephone spying program just yet.
The National Journal reports the Obama administration plans to request temporary authorization from a secret federal court to resume the NSA’s bulk telephone data collection.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration signed the USA Freedom Act, officially ending the NSA’s dragnet spying program, which allowed the agency to collect and analyse vast amounts of information about Americans’ call records.
Here’s the catch: the administration isn’t banned from ending the collection for six months.
This would have given the Obama administration time to wind the program down if all had gone according to House Republicans’ plan. But as the Guardian notes, the NSA has already stopped collecting data.
This is the result of a poor strategy by Republican leadership in the Senate. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) says he wanted to get a temporary “clean” reauthorization of the Patriot Act with the NSA’s surveillance program in place. The House opposed the plan, instead overwhelmingly passing the USA Freedom Act, which proposed ending the NSA’s bulk data collection program.
Even when it looked like the Senate wouldn’t get its way, McConnell refused to budge, forcing the Patriot Act to temporarily expire. The Senate eventually relented and passed the USA Freedom Act, but not before the NSA was legally forced to stop collecting data.
The new bill curtails the NSA’s spying program. Under the USA Freedom Act, when the NSA wants to look at a suspicious individual’s call records, it must go to a FISA court for authorization. With court permission, the NSA can then go to the phone service provider and get six months worth of communication information about who the subject has called.
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