While everyone was busy watching to see what would happen with the Keystone project legislation the Senate quietly squashed a bill that would restrict the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American telecommunications.
The bill would have required the NSA to ask a communications company for records of a specific person when investigating a terrorism case, rather than indiscriminately sweeping up records of all Americans and sorting it out later.
Future Senate Majority Leader republican Mitch McConnell argued against the bill’s passage on Tuesday morning, basically playing the terrorism trump card.
He argued that it was critical to our national security and the fight against terrorism not to do anything to change the way the NSA works.
“If our aim is to degrade and destroy ISIL, as the president has said, then that’s going to require smart policies and firm determination. At a minimum, we shouldn’t be doing anything to make the situation worse,” McConnell said.
The bill failed with a 58 to 42 vote, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move ahead. It is highly unlikely that the bill will be brought up again any time in the near future as most republicans oppose any restrictions to the NSA’s activities.
One commenter on the Chicago Tribune story pointed out that James Madison, one of our founding fathers, once said, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
Oh well, chalk up another blow to our hard won civil liberties because of fear.