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The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 218

HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.
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The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good

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  • It won't die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weilawei ( 897823 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:42PM (#49805585) Homepage

    They'll come up with some sort of emergency measure or other. Not a snowflake's chance in Hell this will die.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And the NSA's Utah collection plant will stand. And nothing will change. Because money.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        Not money. Blackmail. Remember, NSA has essentially entire communication history of everyone in US. No one is so clean that they cannot be blackmailed, especially in high political places.

        Why else do you think Merkel doesn't even say anything about US criminal activity on its soil AFTER German media blows it all out in the open? There's a reason why they prioritised tapping her personal communications.

    • and if that happens people like rand paul will have the upper hand with the people in 2016. not that i see a problem with that in the slightest
      • not that i see a problem with that in the slightest

        Let's also not forget that Obama ran for office on a platform that included "I will stop domestic spying."

        And as soon as he got into office, he did the opposite. As OP states, he called on Congress to pass the so-called "Freedom Act", which was really anything but. It was worse than the original in some ways.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ganjadude ( 952775 )
          difference being obama said alot of things

          rand is actually doing something
          • No disagreement here. I will observe that his motives might be self-serving under these circumstances. But I think it's a good thing when the same acts serve self-interest and the common interest at the same time.
            • im not so sure its self serving though. he has been against the patriot act forever. now he actually has a chance to do something about it.
          • To be fair, he's not alone. He's one of several vocal critics that have been leading the charge. I'd include Ron Wyden (D-OR) in that, for one. Let's make sure we remember the ones who step up and speak out, versus those who don't, regardless of what party or other affiliations they may have.
        • Let's also not forget that Obama ran for office on a platform that included "I will stop domestic spying." ... And as soon as he got into office, he did the opposite.

          I think he's wrong on this issue and can't help but wonder what his advisors are telling him to make him change his view so dramatically. My guess is they know more about the disposition of "missing" nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union than they are telling the public. It's the only thing I can think of that would explain it.

          • You assume he changed his stance. I think his stance hasn't changed - he just said what he needed to say to get elected. In other words, he lied. This is nothing new for him, by the way.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:53PM (#49805923) Homepage Journal

      yeah, but then they'd have to wait [washingtonsblog.com] for something bad to happen to "re-justify" it. It sure would look bad for Rand and good for Jeb if that kind of thing happened a week before the NH Primary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First, get off your ass and call your critters and tell them to let it die.
      Second, tell them to start supporting this...
      https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/27/whistleblowers-back-surveillance-state-repeal-act/

    • And the emergency measure that just has to pass will just happen to also expand what they can do legally. Because there will be no time to change the wording, it'll be fixed the next time. Promise.

    • Re:It won't die (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:12PM (#49806215)

      They'll come up with some sort of emergency measure or other. Not a snowflake's chance in Hell this will die.

      Of course it could die. They could replace it with something worse.

  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:44PM (#49805601) Journal

    I think a Dixieland Jazz parade would be suitable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:46PM (#49805607)

    the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States

    I haven't been following this super close, but I gotta question. The above sounds swell and all, but we've seen this massive barrage of info from Snowden/Greenwald about other things they've been doing. Subverting encryption standards. Getting malware onto hard disk BIOSs. Collecting the contents of communications, not just just the so called metadata. It goes on and on and on.

    Does ALL that stuff die? Or is this - as I am going to go out on a limb here and guess is the case - just reshuffling the status quo a bit to make it appear that "something is being done", without reeling back the majority of this surveillance state that we've seen come to fruition?

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      It's probably that they've decided that only some of it is useful. And most of the rest they can contract out to corporations.

    • by Sun ( 104778 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:45PM (#49805893) Homepage

      No. It does not all die.

      First, please remember that the NSA is a spy agency. So long that their targets are legitimate (more on that in a second), they are expected to do everything within their powers to get to it.

      Subverting the standards was a low blow, but as the ol' Tennessee saying goes "fool me once.... shame on... you? [youtube.com]". Of course, by the time those standards were drafted, the standards body should have already known better (selling Enigma based encryption devices to foreign countries well into the 70's, anyone?). I'm hopeful, however, that we'll get spared "third time a fool".

      As for the other activities, well, this is how spying gets done. That is how you spy on people in this day and age. With all of the justified criticism of the NSA, it would still be bad if they couldn't spy at all. They do, in fact, have a function to fulfill, and it is a function that needs fulfilling.

      Circling back to who the targets should be. Spying against friendly foreign country leaders is not against the the law, or even, as far as I understand it, against the NSA's charter. It is an extremely foolish thing to do, but I don't think changing the law is the way to handle it.

      Shachar

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @04:56PM (#49806135) Journal

        As for the other activities, well, this is how spying gets done. That is how you spy on people in this day and age. With all of the justified criticism of the NSA, it would still be bad if they couldn't spy at all. They do, in fact, have a function to fulfill, and it is a function that needs fulfilling.

        Why don't you unpack that statement a little bit? What is the domestic function of the NSA?

        If you said anything besides, "It doesn't have a domestic function" then you are wrong. The US government is not supposed to be spying on US citizens. If there's some foreign government or organization that's communicating with an American citizen or permanent resident in order to commit a crime, just get a goddamned warrant.

        • by Sun ( 104778 )

          It does have a domestic function, but I suspect that's not what you meant. I thought it was implicit in my reply, but here it is explicitly: The NSA does not have any domestic spying function, charter or legitimacy.

          Shachar

          * By "spying", I mean data collection. Analysis of otherwise legally obtained domestic data is where I'm not sure where I stand. On the one hand, letting a military oriented organization perform police work (and vice versa, e.g. SWAT teams) leads to exactly the sort of bad behaviour we are

        • The NSA's legitimate domestic function is the defense of US Government communications. Information Assurance is one of its key missions. Remember SELinux? That was the NSA performing that role. Unfortunately, the different parts of the NSA are often at odds over this - it's referred to as "the Equities issue/problem" or something like that, because the people who do Information Assurance aren't the ones who do the intelligence gathering stuff.
      • Circling back to who the targets should be.

        Let's talk about the people who should not be targetted by military intelligence - the American people. That's the problem right there.

    • Nothing changes but the label.

      They'll keep doing it, they'll just stop telling you about it and find different words for it.

      They'll rename it to something like "The Free Beer and Guns For Country Boys Act."

      See also, CISPA, CISA, CRISPA, BISPA, CRISCO, or whatever they're calling it for this trip through Congress.

  • by amxcoder ( 1466081 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:49PM (#49805623)
    My weather app doesn't forcast Hell freezing over anytime soon, so I seriously doubt this is will be true. The politicians/government agencies all know a good thing when they see it. The Patriot Act gives them unfettered access to have huge budgets, grow bigger and add more departments, share information freely between unrelated agencies, spy on Americans all they want, collect data on everyone to use how they see fit, and all sorts of other goodness that big government types love.

    The power hungry folks in Washington will never let this die.
    • How is this insightful? The Patriot Act is less than 36 hours away from expiring, and all signs point toward the extension being filibustered into defeat. Going on a defeatist rant about how government is some grand all-powerful evil that will never be defeated in any way does nothing to dispel the fact that it looks like the Patriot Act will be gone by Monday morning.

      Insight brings new information and analysis, not a "the world will never change" tirade.
      • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @04:32PM (#49806051)

        "... it looks like the Patriot Act will be gone by Monday morning."

        Correction: key provisions of the Patriot Act. What most people call "the Patriot Act" was actually a collection of bills and laws, only some of which were part of the Patriot Act itself.

        So yes, technically most if not all of the Patriot Act would expire... but there are other sibling laws that need to go down in flames, too, before the damage done will really be repaired.

      • How is this insightful? The Patriot Act is less than 36 hours away from expiring, and all signs point toward the extension being filibustered into defeat.

        It's insightful because only some provisions of the Patriot Act will expire, and the FISA court will continue to do whatever they want.

        Laws as sweeping as the Patriot Act don't just go away.

      • To answer your question on the lack my of enthusiasm, is because personally, I would bet money on the fact, that even if the provisions do expire, it won't change a thing that is going on with many of the spying and data collection methods.

        These systems were put into place over a long period of time, and at great expense, and it will take more than a bill expiring to force these systems to actually be dismantled. If the bill expires, but the systems are still in place, including all the taps at the ISP'
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )

        If it fails, part of the failure can be attributed to John Oliver.

        That guy has done more to clean up government in 2 years on HBO than most politicians do in a 2 decades in office.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:52PM (#49805631)
    If they don't pass it then the government will just do all those things anyway. It's not like they are subject to the law or the constitution or anything.
  • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:53PM (#49805641)
    They were collecting data before the Patriot Act, they will collect it after. As technology allows they will collect more and more. They will lie to congress, the courts, and most certainly to the public. However this is all known to have ready been done with absolute certainty thanks to Snowden. It's a sign that they are getting bolder, more willing to act without even a shred of cover of law. They no longer need to pretend for permission due to the Patriot Act. Thus it can be allowed to expire.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      While true they have always done illegal stuff they can only use that kind of stuff certain ways and for certain purposes. By removing the legality of these actions the actions will not end but they wont be able to use them for anything but actual terrorism. The war on terror will now be a behind the scenes covert kind of war and they'll have to stop using those same tactics for regular crime. Spies never really stop spying or they wouldn't be spies.

    • Yes and no (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @06:58PM (#49806717)
      parts of the patriot act were used to coordinate the response to Occupy Wallstreet. Without the law what was done to shut the movement down wouldn't have been legal and we might have a very different political landscape.
  • Watch (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    for false flage operation if it is not renewed.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:54PM (#49805653)

    Good riddance.

    I remember that when the Patriot Act was first passed thinking that

    - this was obviously on someone's wet dream wish list (it was not so much written as released from the vaults) and

    - passing huge changes in security laws with little debate and less thought in the near panicked initial response to a terrorist attack is basically a good definition of what not to do in a crisis.

    Of course, that was before the Bush Administration invaded Iraq and showed us that purposeful stupidity can be worse than mindless stupidity.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      this was obviously on someone's wet dream wish list (it was not so much written as released from the vaults)

      There's probably an even better successor version of the law waiting in the vaults for the next event of a similar magnitude.

      The intelligence agencies can just lay low for a few months; there's bound to be an event justifying uber-surveillance powers and a never-expiring new and improved version of patriot act that gives even more powers for surveillance of americans and casting dragnets and da

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        And as someone else mentioned, if nothing shows up quickly enough, another "false flag" operation. Though actually I think it's probably usually easy enough to instigate someone somewhere in the world to do something wildly threatening. So you just don't stop them, and maybe turn a blind eye to a few of their fumbles. (E.g., see all the advance reports on 9/11, including reports by the FBI about pilot training in the US that didn't involve landing.)

        It's quite rare that an actual false-flag operation is

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          And as someone else mentioned, if nothing shows up quickly enough, another "false flag" operation.

          It's not necessary, and I think 9/11 was a real incident, not a false-flag.

          However, 9/11 could have prevented, and laziness/incompetence plus a poor job done by intelligence agency staff and neglect of their reports by those in charge contributed to the unmitigated success of the attack.

          That's all that needs to happen after Pat. act expires. Laziness or incompetence by the intelligence agencies resulting

  • Well said (Score:5, Interesting)

    by don_combatant ( 1039232 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @02:57PM (#49805669)
    This is one of the best comments I've seen about the Patriot act (from the NY Times): 'Listening to the arguments for keeping the "Patriot Act" on the PBS News Hour tonight, they sound just like the same kind of arguments used by the NKVD, and the Gestapo, everyone needs watching to keep the American people safe. They are protecting us from subversives, terrorists, those who would threaten our society. The same arguments used by dictators and tyrants for all history. Just the term "Patriot Act" ("a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country") was coined to give the idea that anyone against it was not loyal to the country, and were a threat to the rest of the citizenry. It is also used to demean anyone who criticizes the government for actions such as going to war, to "protect Americans." There is nothing patriotic about the act, it is an act of repression, it is a scare tactic, made by people who have a strong desire to stay in power and make others behave withing their ideological framework. It is a means to keep watch on all of us, not just the miscreants. We got by for 239 years without it, we don ot need it now.' --David Underwood, Citrus Heights
    • Man! If even Underwood thinks the law is unpatriotic, it must be indeed horrible. I mean, we all saw what he had to do to become the President.

  • by Laxator2 ( 973549 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:03PM (#49805701)

    It does not mean that the spying will stop.
    Only that it will be moved to the private sector.

    In place of the NSA, it will be Verizon, Comcast et al who will be doing the bulk data collection.

    And instead of being financed by tax money that is collected anyway, the bulk collection will be financed by additional charges to the phone/cable bills.

    • by matfud ( 464184 )

      Nah that was the FREEDOM bill which is not going to be passed. Hence the issue with the PATRIOT act expiring.

  • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:05PM (#49805719)

    President Obama clearly knows how to kill a bill that he wants dead. All he needs to do is some out in favor of it and it is going to be DOA.

    If he had fought hard against the reinstatement of the Patriot Act it would pass with a veto-proof majority.

      (In his book even former President Bush said The Patriot Act was poorly named. He felt, in recollection, that by naming it such, it made it hard for there to be meaningful discussion. . . after all, who wants to go on record as opposing patriotism?)

    • if i remember correctly, killing it was one of the things he ran on in 08 (before he, renewed it that is)
  • snowden ftw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:17PM (#49805763)

    this is all because of one man who did a brave thing and was forced to flee his country for a hostile nation. history books will write of snowden as a hero.

    • Re:snowden ftw (Score:5, Interesting)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:32PM (#49805829) Journal

      Indeed, while he seems often villified, it was him who showed the US that the spying was happening. It it looking like his legacy is having some serious positive consequences, in real terms. And he's risked his life and will probably have to spend his life in exile. But he did it for the good of his country.

      A true patriot and a true hero.

  • by kartaron ( 763480 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:20PM (#49805777)

    From all over the media, political commentators have been slamming Rand Paul since the 'filibuster'. Not just competitive republicans running for office or stumping for their guy either. Fox news left him off the latest poll, Scarboro (former republican analyst) mocks him, Bill Kristol (ancient neocon acolyte) mocks him. Several editorial columns describe his maneuvering of the vote for renewing the patriot act as betrayal. Huffpo implied Rand's 'act' is so tedious that other senators roll their eyes.

    Amazing how this man is so derided for actually acting on one of the biggest issues of our time instead of just going along

    • they do so because they are scared of him, and rightfully so
  • I'll start holding my breath.
  • Glad to see the law die, but I'm sure the surveillance state is "too big to fail" now, so they've already found some handy loophole in some arcane law and will quietly continue to fuck American freedoms anally without lube.

    If you think obeying laws is actually going to happen in this case, you might want to go get some KY Jelly now.

  • This kind of privacy stuff needs to be enshrined in the constitution. Otherwise they will just keep wailing away at our privacy rights until we have none.

    There will be more attacks, and they won't be preventable with the greatest of rights violations. If someone wants to mount an attack against the US they are like water or they are stupid. The water will get through any holes (and there are always holes). Or they are really stupid and are easy to catch.

    But with each attack they point to it and say, "Lo
  • by ourlovecanlastforeve ( 795111 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @03:54PM (#49805927)

    "And then we said, sure, we'll turn off the Patriot Act! HAH! HA HAAAAAH!"

  • Because the alphabet soup will suddenly give a shit about what they're legally allowed to do and actually adhere to that?

  • Strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @04:16PM (#49805993)

    If a terrorist truly wanted to harm us, the best way they could do it would be to mount a showy but essentially superficial attack some place Monday morning right after this expired.

    The actual damage and injuries and deaths from the attack itself would probably be minuscule, but the self-inflicted damage and injuries and deaths caused by the U.S. doubling down on even tighter surveillance, more war on terror, and the loss of our freedoms that we say we're trying protect would gladden the hearts of many a terrorist. It is a strategy that has worked well for them since well before 9/11.

    Terrorists can't destroy us directly, but they're happy to let us do it to ourselves voluntarily.

    • Cue in the false flag operations.
    • if stopping terrorists wasn't generally trivial. We know about 9/11. We knew about the Boston Marathon Bombers. The only terrorists we've ever really had a problem with are the home grown ones (Unabomber and what all). You see, there's this thing called an Ocean that separates us from them. It's why our country is as stable and powerful as it is...
      • Ummm....they have these things called "airplanes" now that can fly over the oceans pretty regularly. I'm afraid the terrorists have also heard about them, unfortunately.
    • Re:Strategy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kernel Kurtz ( 182424 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @07:17PM (#49806801) Homepage

      My mod points just expired, but this^

      9/11 was not Bin Laden's greatest success, the Patriot Act (and similar laws in other western countries) was.

      He scared people into gladly giving up their own freedom. How brilliant, and disturbingly easy, was that!

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        The sad part is that the U.S. fell for it so quickly after Reagan snookered the USSR into bankrupting itself in a similar way.

    • by matfud ( 464184 )

      Personally I think it is because the three letter agencies are getting paranoid that publicly traded companies are gathering more intelligence and making more use of it then they are. They could require those companies to provide the information via warrents but they are worried that they don't know what questions to ask them ;P

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only Section 215 is expiring. The Patriot Act itself has long since been extended pretty much permanently.

    Other parts of the Patriot Act, including the use of National Security Letters, still allow them to spy on anyone for any reason without a warrant. In fact, for the first few years after the Patriot Act was signed, the government didn't even invoke Section 215 to do this stuff because NSLs do the trick just as easy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I must have missed where there were consequences for those 3 letter agencies breaking the law?

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @06:22PM (#49806567) Homepage

    Contact your Senators NOW and demand they let it die and anything else that has to do with spying on americans and the erosion of our rights and the constitution.

    Do it now and then hand feed another person to do it right now. Hell I'll hand feed all of you.

    https://www.sunsetthepatriotac... [sunsetthepatriotact.com]

    Do it right now. Unless you hate freedom and america.

  • Once again it shows only leader like Rand Paul have our interests at heart.

  • It doesn't matter if it's legal or not; our government will do any damn thing they feel like.

  • You screwed up the anthrax shipments we were supposed to use in the flag operation, so we can get the Patriot Act renewed. Now what are we going to do?

  • I don't live in the US, so I honestly don't know. Call me lazy if you like, but could someone please give a succinct explanation of what the Patriot Act is/means?
  • The Patriot Act didn't create surveillance from nothing. Much of what was in there was an expansion of what was being done before. There was plenty of awful and scary new shit in there, but the shit that came before it is what we get now and it wasn't that great either.
  • Gosh, I hope it does fail to be renewed. Any bit of our rights we can claw back, after the mess of the post 9-11 years, is a benefit. Maybe we can dissolve the TSA with similar levels of vigor and/or apathy.

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