Senate Fails to Extend PATRIOT Act – NSA Begins Shutdown of Bulk Spying Program

NSA Headquarters. Photo credit: Trevor Paglen.

NSA Headquarters. Photo credit: Trevor Paglen.

Source: Truth In Media

Last week, the Obama administration said that it would begin winding down the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ private phone data if Congress were to fail to reauthorize Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act by Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried desperately to extend the expiring surveillance authority before senators left town, but was shut down by a coalition of Senate privacy advocates led by Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden.

Now, National Journal is reporting that the Obama administration has begun to shut down the program. Said an administration official on Saturday, “We’ve said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement. That process has begun.” The NSA’s bulk phone spying program had been ruled illegal by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and its authority granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order expired on May 22.

Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said that the Obama administration was being “disingenuous” with its claim that the program’s shutdown had begun and that restarting it after the expiration of the FISA court’s Section 215 authority would not be as complicated as officials made it seem. Burr said that he believed that the real shutdown would take place at 4 PM on May 31, meaning that the Senate would have an opportunity to reauthorize the program in an emergency session now scheduled for Sunday. “The database doesn’t go poof and go away,” said Burr. He continued, “And the White House has been very specific that they wanted this bill passed. This was the most significant lobby on a piece of legislation in the six years I’ve seen the Obama administration.”

Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest urged the Senate to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a PATRIOT Act alternative that has already passed the House of Representatives, which some say does not include the illegal spying program. However, privacy advocate Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) says that the USA FREEDOM Act still allows mass surveillance but requires corporations to do it, rather than the government. Earnest blasted McConnell for “playing chicken” with national security programs by pushing for a short-term PATRIOT Act reauthorization instead of the USA FREEDOM Act.

Though senators could reauthorize the expiring Section 215 authority when they return on May 31, the Obama administration said that restarting the program has become more complicated now that the May 22 deadline to submit the application to restart it has passed. “We did not file an application for reauthorization,” said an administration official to National Journal.


After years of research and a series of unpleasant experiences concerning the current child protection services system, Alec Cope decided to combat the cancerous corruption through information. Freelance writing articles as a form of protest and distributing them throughout his former high-school and local area, Alec struck special chords with whomever he was in contact with.

Alec has been involved in activism such as sit down protests as well as Idle No More gatherings. Being independent for the majority of his time, Alec became a member of the WeAreChange family to assist one of the organizations that inspired him to become active in the first place. With a larger platform and positive support Alec has committed the majority of his time to research, writing, and maintaining social media with the goal to continue expanding the awakening sweeping throughout all levels of society.

Growing up within a rural area in Northern Michigan as well as being a native American descendant, Alec is seeking to expose environmental abuse in his state as well as globally. A high-school dropout, Alec chases his passion for writing and empowering individuals while showing any isolated person that they too can overcome the odds with a community that will support them. Alec lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan near Kalamazoo.

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