What others say: On NSA, Congress' spine finally stiffening

Public outrage over Edward Snowden’s revelations of spying abuses by the National Security Agency has finally had a welcomed consequence. Congress — supine for years in its duty to check the agency’s power — is finally regrowing its spine.

 

The first indication came in May, when the U.S. House first passed important, but watered-down, reforms. The USA Freedom Act was intended to end the NSA’s bulk and warrantless collection of American’s phone records. But last-minute amendments gave the NSA too much wiggle room to conduct business as usual.

Last week, the spine stiffened. The House, by a 293-123 margin, moved to hit the NSA where it hurts — in its budget — by defunding what the Electronic Frontier Foundation called “two of the NSA’s most invasive surveillance practices,” including the practice of requiring American companies to install backdoor spy holes in communications hardware and software.

Among the Washington delegation, only U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert and Doc Hastings voted no.

A yes vote on NSA reforms resets the balance between the NSA’s role between homeland protection and bedrock American civil liberties. In the post-9/11 decade of passive and deferring congressional oversight, that balance was tipped dangerously toward the former.

This reset now moves to the U.S. Senate. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a champion of NSA reform even before Snowden’s revelations, cites the agency’s “long track record of secretly interpreting surveillance laws in incredibly broad ways” as reason for the Senate to further stiffen its spine.

He has the backing of the American people. A recent Pew Research poll found broad cynicism about President Barack Obama’s support for NSA reforms. By a 4-to-1 margin, Americans disbelieved the claim that reforms will weaken the fight on terrorism.

Congress, finally, is reclaiming its oversight spine.

— Seattle Times,

June 24

More

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 09:54

What others say: Grateful that Congressional shooting wasn’t worse

America came awfully close to experiencing one of the worst mass shootings in our nation’s history.

Read more
Wed, 06/28/2017 - 09:53

Op-ed: The politician justices

There is a silver lining here: It enlightens anyone who believes that all those who comprise the judicial branch of our federal government, particularly the... Read more

What others say: Air traffic control in need of reform

The U.S. air traffic control system has fallen woefully behind most of the rest of the world, but we may finally be on the cusp... Read more

Op-ed: Obamacare and other Unhealthy acts

Is there anyone who can point to the “Affordable Care Act” (aka Obamacare) and credibly claim it is accomplishing the goals set for it seven... Read more

Around the Web