[Libs-Or] INFORMATION: House committees break surveillance reform bill logjam; logrolling begins…

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Fri May 9 12:20:07 PDT 2014


House committees break surveillance reform bill logjam; logrolling begins…
Posted on May 8, 2014 by Adam Eisgrau

After months of outward inactivity, two key Committees of the House of
Representatives with previously very different views of what the
government’s surveillance powers should be have just breathed new life into
long-stalled efforts to reform existing national security laws sparked by
the revelations of NSA “leaker” Edward Snowden almost a year ago.

On Wednesday, May 7 the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Robert
Goodlatte of Virginia, took up and *unanimously* passed a new version of
the USA FREEDOM Act, H.R. 3361. Both the original
and the so-called “substitute
(pdf) approved Wednesday with just one “friendly”
were authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Less than 24
hours later, and quite contrary to the expectations of most observers,
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers
abandoned his long-standing plan to produce more restrictive surveillance
“reform” legislation, opting instead to have the Intelligence Committee
take up and pass by voice vote the Judiciary Committee’s new version of
H.R. 3361 without amendment.

This unexpected Committee comity significantly increases the odds of a full
House vote on the legis­lation, potentially soon and in any event before
Congress adjourns for the mid-term elections in the fall. Speaker Boehner
has not indicated whether he will wait for the Senate to act first on its
version of reform legislation before scheduling a House vote on H.R. 3361.
Near term, however, the Speaker does want to take up and pass the National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Department of Defense.
That significantly increases the odds of rapid consideration of H.R. 3361
in order to preclude “surveillance reform” amendments to the NDAA like
those offered in the past. For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Leahy has stated that his Committee will take the matter up “this

Also unclear is what changes, if any, may be made by Committee and House
leadership in the bill before it reaches the House floor. Several members
of the Judiciary Committee made clear at Wednesday’s “markup” of H.R. 3361
that they will try to further strengthen privacy protections for the public
and Senator Leahy echoed their
For his part, Intelligence Committee Chairman Rogers issued a
that he looks “forward to working with the Judiciary Committee,
House and Senate leadership, and the White House to address outstanding
operational concerns and enact the USA Freedom Act into law this year.”

While the bill in its current form doesn’t provide all of the privacy
protections backed by ALA and its coalition partners, ALA will continue to
work with them and Congressional leadership to improve H.R. 3361 over the
next few weeks as it moves forward in the House, and through the summer in
the Senate. Key objectives will include: tightening the statutory language
to assure that the new legislation can’t be misinterpreted and misapplied
to permit the collection of Americans’ emails and other communications;
adding transparency to authorized surveillance efforts by permitting more
extensive public disclosure by phone companies of how many government
requests for data they receive and how many phone records were actually
accessed in a given period; and establishing more robust “watchdog”
mechanisms for detecting potential abuses or infractions of new law.

As summarized by the House Judiciary
H.R. 3361:

*Prohibits Bulk Collection of Data: *The bill protects Americans’ privacy
by prohibiting bulk collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act
(Section 501 of FISA), under the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace law
(Section 402 of FISA), and under National Security Letter statutes.

*New Mechanism for Obtaining Call Records: *To ensure national security
officials have the needed information to keep Americans safe while
enhancing Americans’ confidence in the manner in which this information is
collected and held, the bill creates a new process for the collection of
call detail records. The government would be required to seek approval from
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) of specific selection
terms on a case-by-case basis.  The FISC is authorized to allow up to two
“hops.” The government may renew these orders every 180 days.

*Protects Americans’ Privacy: *The bill codifies current minimization
procedures, requiring the government to adopt procedures that are
reasonably designed to minimize the retention and prohibit the
dissemination of nonpublic information about Americans. It also clarifies
the existing provision in the FISA Amendments Act against reverse targeting
and reiterates Congress’ intent in protecting the communications of
Americans.   Additionally, it prohibits the government from using
unlawfully obtained information about Americans acquired outside the scope
of court-approved targeting and minimization procedures.

*Ensures Robust Oversight of Intelligence-Gathering Programs: *The bill
increases oversight of our intelligence-gathering programs by providing for
judicial review of minimization procedures for the production of tangible
things, such as emails and phone calls.

*Increases Transparency of Intelligence-Gathering Programs: *The
billcreates a panel of legal experts to help ensure the FISA court
adequately considers privacy concerns and Constitutional rights of
Americans and also requires the Attorney General to conduct a
declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA
court that includes a significant construction or interpretation of the
law. The bill also requires the government to disclose the number of
requests made for call detail records under the new collection program and
requires the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to publicly report
annually the number of FISA orders issued, modified, or denied by the FISC.

*Allows American Tech Companies to Disclose FISA Orders: *The Committee
today approved an amendment offered by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-Wa.),
Chairman Goodlatte, and Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner to allow
companies to semi-annually publicly report requests for information they
receive under FISA and National Security Letter authorities. This amendment
codifies the Justice Department’s settlement with several companies earlier
this year while making additional modifications to allow for even greater
transparency to the American people about their privacy and the extent of
the intelligence community’s work, while protecting national security.


*Diedre Conkling*

*Lincoln County Library DistrictP.O. Box 2027Newport, OR 97365Phone & Fax:
541-265-3066Work email**:
**diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org*<diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org>
*Home email: **diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

 “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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