Tags: Homeland Security | NSA/Surveillance | War on Terrorism | Richard Burr | Patriot Act | extend | surveillance

As Patriot Act Nears Sunset, Some Struggle to Keep Surveillance

By    |   Monday, 18 May 2015 10:42 PM

Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reportedly is working on legislation that would extend surveillance powers under the Patriot Act before the controversial law is allowed to expire at the end of the month.

Burr has aligned himself with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in support of the legislation, which would keep the government's collection of phone records legal.

Their efforts are running up against another bill in the House, called the USA Freedom Act, which they say would not be as effective at keeping Americans safe.

"You've got to understand, I look at [the USA Freedom Act] and I think that's the same as expiration," Burr said in a National Journal story. "So, if it expires or you pass [USA Freedom], you end up with the same thing — you end up with a program that's not working."

Burr said a "backup" plan is being developed to extend some of the Patriot Act's surveillance practices.

He would not say whether his plan was a separate bill or an amendment, but it would involve extending the National Security Agency's authority to collect phone records. Proponents of the practice say it is necessary in an age when terrorism is a constant threat.

Burr recently said the NSA's collection of phone records is "very effective at keeping America safe."

"What we looked at was the impact of 9/11 and the fact that we might have been able to stop 9/11 had we had bulk collection," Burr said.

"The reality is that the bulk collection does not give us any Americans' names. If we had to go to content, I can assure you it would take another court order."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, however, is urging the Senate to take on the USA Freedom Act, which passed in the House last week.

The USA Freedom Act would end the NSA's bulk phone collection practices.

"If we have a bill with 338 votes, why would we need to wait around? So, it's no intention of waiting around," McCarthy said in the National Journal story. "I'm hopeful that [the Senate will] be able to ... move this bill."

McConnell is struggling for support to keep the Patriot Act's surveillance practices on the books.

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Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reportedly is working on legislation that would extend surveillance powers under the Patriot Act before the controversial law is allowed to expire at the end of the month.
Richard Burr, Patriot Act, extend, surveillance, phone, records
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2015-42-18
Monday, 18 May 2015 10:42 PM
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