Inquiring minds want to know: What’s the deal with the USA Freedom Act? Will Durst is here to help.
Q. What’s the darn deal with the USA Freedom Act?
A. It is sort of a Patriot Act Lite. They removed the razor coil that was strangling the 4th Amendment and replaced it with barbed wire.
Q. Why was Congress in such a hurry to pass it?
A. Several surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act were about to expire. The desperation was so acute they held a session on Sunday.
Q. So they came right after church?
A. Politics is their only religion.
Q. Does the USA Freedom Act end bulk collection or not?
A. Yes. And No.
Q. Why is it called the “USA Freedom Act?”
A. Apparently the “Mom & Apple Pie & Cute Little Kittens Chasing Yarn Through the Legs of Toddlers Act” was already taken.
Q. Don’t you just love our bulk collection of elected prawns?
A. The best that money can buy.
Q. What remains the same?
A. Pretty much everything. The NSA is still able to collect data and conduct surveillance on all the numbers and people that contact anybody on their list of suspected bad guys. And collect data on the numbers that contact those numbers and the numbers contacting those numbers, etc.
Q. Sort of like a super secret Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?
A. Exactly. By now, Kevin Bacon has definitely been placed on a “Do Not Act” list.
Q. That guy always had a sneaky look. Never really trusted him.
A. Not since before “Animal House.”
Q. Anything else the same?
A. The USA Freedom Act reinstates the Roving Wiretap Provision, which allows the CIA to monitor sneaky guys who cleverly use throw-away cell phones. And the Lone Wolf Provision, which reputedly has never been used.
Q. Yeah, right. And hippopotamus teeth make dandy soup tureens. What’s different?
A. Records will be kept by the communications industry instead of the government and businesses have a little more leeway to report information requests, and since they could be prosecuted for acknowledging requests before, that part is a big deal.
Q. How much more leeway?
A. Aye, there’s the rub. On a 1 to a 100 scale, probably 1.
Q. So, not much change at all, eh?
A. Its baby steps. A Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound, sure. But one of those flesh colored Band-Aids that can be worn to work and hardly anybody notices.
Q. Winners & Losers?
A. Rand Paul & Barack Obama are winners. Senator Paul for calling attention to his stubborn libertarianism and the president for getting something, anything passed. And Mitch McConnell is a big loser.
Q. Why? Because he invested so much political capital in renewing the Patriot Act intact and lost through a series of procedural moves, which he, as the Majority Leader should have anticipated?
A. No. He’s just a big loser.
Q. If this were a video game, what would it be called?
A. Metadata Duty.
Q. After this all shakes out, who ends up the bigger threat to the loss of our personal privacy and freedom, the CIA, NSA or FBI?
Q. So, what we really need is for Julian Assange to go after Mark Zuckerberg.
A. You said it. Not me.