Speaking at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, MA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R.-KY) defended the Patriot Act and NSA spying program that collects data from the phone calls and emails of American citizens.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is set to expire June 1, and Mitch McConnell has vowed to fight for its extension through to 2020.
“The nation is better off with an extension of the Patriot Act than not, but we’ll see where the votes go,” said McConnell.
Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA data collection program was illegal under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and that the NSA exceeded the authority granted to it by Congress.
The USA Freedom Act was introduced to the House and would reduce the NSA’s mandate and prohibit the bulk collection of phone and email metadata.
Senator McConnell is critical of the bill and says that it will create more bureaucracy that will leave the U.S. open to attack.
“The USA Freedom Act would replace Section 215 with an untested, untried, and more cumbersome system. It would not end bulk collection of call data,” McConnell said. “It switches this responsibility from the NSA, with total oversight, to corporate employees with uncertain supervision and protocols.”
Senator Patrick Leahy (D.-VT), one of the authors of the Freedom Act said that “these Republicans seem intent on demonstrating that they are wholly out of touch with the facts, the law, and the American people on this issue.”
[Reuters][The National Journal]
“I will not agree to any extension of this program,” Leahy continued. “Congress should take up and pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, which would ban bulk collection under Section 215 and enact other meaningful surveillance reforms.”