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Government United States Politics

White House Pressures Legislators Into Gutting USA FREEDOM Act 284

The U.S. House of Representatives has substantially reduced the effectiveness of the USA FREEDOM Act, a surveillance reform bill that sought to end mass collection of U.S. citizens' data. House Leadership was pressured by the Obama Administration to weaken many of the bill's provisions. The EFF and the Center for Democracy & Technology had both given their backing to the bill earlier this month, but they've now withdrawn their support. CDT Senior Counsel Harley Geiger said, "The Leadership of the House is demonstrating that it wants to end the debate about surveillance, rather than end bulk collection. As amended, the bill may not prevent collection of data on a very large scale in a manner that infringes upon the privacy of Americans with no connection to a crime or terrorism. This is quite disappointing given the consensus by the public, Congress, the President, and two independent review groups that ending bulk collection is necessary."

Robyn Greene of the Open Technology Institute added, "We are especially disappointed by the weakening of the language intended to prohibit bulk collection of innocent Americans’ records. Although we are still hopeful that the bill’s language will end the bulk collection of telephone records and prevent indiscriminate collection of other types of records, it may still allow data collection on a dangerously massive scale. Put another way, it may ban ‘bulk’ collection of all records of a particular kind, but still allow for ‘bulky’ collection impacting the privacy of millions of people. Before this bill becomes law, Congress must make clear—either through amendments to the bill, through statements in the legislative record, or both—that mass collection of innocent people’s records isn’t allowed."
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White House Pressures Legislators Into Gutting USA FREEDOM Act

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  • by somedudegeekman ( 3660883 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @02:57PM (#47058765)
    I agree with your points, and I would add:

    5. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    I apologize for the cliche, but I think the kind of narcissistic tendencies one needs to have in order to be a successful politician can't turn away from the ability to find out everything about your political enemies. Even from a practical standpoint, that kind of leverage is just too good to resist if you're owned lock/stock/barrel by your campaign contributors and you need to deliver legislation favoring X industry or Y company.
  • by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @02:58PM (#47058781)

    Am I reading it wrong?

    Yes. The White House (Obama's administration) convinced the House Leadership (legislative members of the House of [pseudo]Representatives) to gut the bill.

  • Re:But, but, BUT! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @03:55PM (#47059389) Homepage
    Right-wing lunatics like, say, Jamie Foxx [huffingtonpost.com]?
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @04:30PM (#47059821)

    No, his is correct. Republicans used to be a lot more sane than they are now. And Democrats are more sane than they used to be. Both parties moved to the right, and the Republicans went so far right as to be unrecognizable as the party of Lincoln, or even Eisenhower.

    By agreeing that Obama is like Reagan and claiming that Republicans used to be more sane, you seem to imply that Obama is sane too. You also claim that both parties have moved more "right" (i.e., "conservative").

    Neither of these things is the case. What's actually occurred is that the President, the Republicans and the Democrats have all become much more authoritarian (and corrupt) than they used to be. They have not moved "right", they've moved up [wikipedia.org].

  • by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @04:37PM (#47059921)

    How so? I've heard this claimed a few times, but there never seems to be any substance to back it up. Searching for "Obama Reagan policy comparison" just turns up a bunch of blog posts with obvious biases (of all types) and poor arguments backed up with cherry picked anecdotes and intentionally misleading data.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @05:49PM (#47060685) Homepage Journal

    Name one thing he said he would do that he didn't try to do, only to be shut down by the republicans.

    You mean, aside from:

    - Introduce a comprehensive immigration bill in the first year
    - Bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda
    - Cut the cost of a typical family's health insurance premium by up to $2,500 a year
    - Create a public option health plan for a new National Health Insurance Exchange.
    - Negotiate health care reform in public sessions televised on C-SPAN
    - No family making less than $250,000 will see "any form of tax increase."
    - Recognize the Armenian genocide
    - Give the White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Board subpoena power
    - Allow penalty-free hardship withdrawals from retirement accounts in 2008 and 2009
    - Sign the Freedom of Choice Act
    - Devote federal resources to promote cellulosic ethanol
    - Provide an annual report on "state of our energy future"
    - Require energy conservation in use of transportation dollars
    - Double federal program to help "reverse" commuters who go from city to suburbs
    - Mandate flexible fuel vehicles by 2012
    - Require more flex-fuel cars for the federal government
    - Require new federal fleet purchases to be half plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles
    - Require plug-in fleet at the White House
    - Use revenue from cap and trade to support clean energy and environmental restoration
    - Create cap and trade system with interim goals to reduce global warming
    - Enact windfall profits tax for oil companies
    - Require 25 percent renewable energy by 2025
    - Establish a low carbon fuel standard
    - Reduce earmarks to 1994 levels
    - Give annual "State of the World" address
    - Call for a consultative group of congressional leaders on national security
    - Limit term of director of national intelligence
    - Strengthen the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
    - Give tax incentives to new farmers
    - Strengthen anti-monopoly laws to favor independent farmers
    - Limit subsidies for agribusiness
    - Reduce the number of middle managers in the federal workforce
    - Improve and prioritize student science assessments
    - Encourage diversity in media ownership
    - Seek treaty to control fissile materials
    - Pay for the national service plan without increasing the deficit
    - Expand service-learning in schools
    - Establish a Global Energy Corps to promote green energy in developing countries
    - Create a national catastrophe insurance reserve
    - Direct revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to increased coastal hurricane protection
    - Support human mission to moon by 2020
    - Re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council
    - Support tax deduction for artists
    - Fully fund the COPS program
    - Restore Superfund program so that polluters pay for clean-ups
    - Increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour
    - Increase the supply of affordable housing throughout metropolitan regions
    - Allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms of a home mortgage
    - Ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies
    - Eliminate caps on damages for discrimination cases
    - Sign the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act into law
    - Urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws
    - Regulate pollution from major livestock operations
    - Create scholarships to recruit new teachers
    - Double funding for afterschool programs
    - Double funding for Federal Charter School Program and require more accountability
    - Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials
    - Allow five days of public comment before signing bills
    - Expose Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny
    - Create a public "Contracts and Influence" database
    - Seek independent watchdog agency to investigate congressional ethics violations
    - Double the Peace Corps
    - Reinstate special envoy for the Americas
    - With the G-8, launch Health Infrastructure 2020
    - Seek to nego

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"