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House panels approve bill putting a stop to NSA phone data gathering

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U.S. lawmakers Thursday advanced a measure that reins in NSA surveillance Thursday, signaling final passage of reforms aimed at ending bulk data collection could come quicker than expected.

Easing what was shaping up to be a showdown between reformers and hawkish National Security Agency reformers, the House Intelligence Committee abandoned its own surveillance bill and unanimously approved the measure that sailed through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The proposal could soon be brought to the House floor, although no date has been set. It would then go to the Senate, where committees have yet to agree on NSA reform measures.

“We look forward to working with the Judiciary Committee, House and Senate leadership, and the White House to address outstanding operational concerns and enact the USA Freedom Act into law this year,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and the panel’s top Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger said in a statement.

The bill would end the practice of scooping up Americans’ telephone metadata — including numbers dialed, duration and times of calls, but not content. The program was disclosed last year by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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The White House called the bill “a very good step” and hoped to see a House vote “in the near future.”

Lawmakers are concerned that US intelligence agencies are also gathering the content of personal email messages, an issue Senator Ron Wyden wants addressed in the final legislation.

The House measure would boost privacy safeguards by requiring a secret surveillance court to determine that there is “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a person has terror connections before intelligence agencies can pull his or her records from a phone company’s database.

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It would also increase transparency of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, create a panel of legal experts to ensure the FISA court adheres to privacy and constitutional rights and allow communications firms, such as those ordered by the government to hand over data, to release more information about such requests.

The proposal is similar to plans laid out by President Barack Obama in March, when he called on Congress to act to end the federal government’s collection and storage of metadata.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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The real problem wasn’t the racism — it was the Trump taking ‘the Lord’s name in vain’ twice: supporter

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President Donald Trump was widely condemned after supporters at a campaign rally in West Virginia turned his racist "go back" message into a "Send Her Back" chant against one of a woman of color in Congress.

One Trump supporter in West Virginia also criticized the speech, but not for the racist targeting of Rep. Ilhan Omar.

State Senator Paul Hardesty, a Democrat, wrote to the White House to complain about Trump's use of the word "goddamn."

The letter was republished by the Montgomery-Herald.

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Tongue-tied GOP strategist crashes and burns on-air while trying to deny Trump’s racism

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Republican strategist Amy Tarkanian crashed and burned on CNN on Saturday while attempting to deny President Donald Trump's racism.

"I do not believe that the president’s tweets were racist. I do believe they were not well thought out. He needs that extra, 'Are you sure?' button on Twitter," Tarkanian argued.

"I'm a black man, I'm a Republican and a black man," the Rev. Joe Watkins interjected. "My mother's an immigrant, I would be angry if someone said that to my mother."

"Oh, it’s very offensive. But he did not say, because you are this color, go back to where you came from," Tarkanian argued. "I’m not supporting that tweet. Was it racist? No. Was it stupid? Yes."

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Trump supporter blames Democrats for being targeted by the president: ‘Why is that racist?’

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CNN interviewed a supporter of President Donald Trump in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who refused to acknowledge the racism in the president's "Go Back" attacks on four women of color in Congress.

The network interviewed Kerri Krumenauer of Wiersgalla Plumbing & Heating Company about Trump's attacks.

"How is it racist?" she asked.

"If you don't like this country, get out," she demanded. "Leave!"

She then showed how misinformed she was about the incident.

"He didn't use any names -- they stood up," she falsely claimed. In fact, Trump did use names and the targets did not stand up as they were not at his North Carolina campaign rally.

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