01.12.15

Washington Post: Attack in France shouldn't blunt drive for NSA surveillance reform

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports on the France attack and reform for NSA surveillance:

Politicians and Beltway commentators are today consumed in a debate over whether President Obama, in failing to attend the march in Paris, failed to show solidarity with the victims of the terror attack and the cause of free speech in general.

Meanwhile, beyond such hand-wringing over symbolism, the attack could have an actual impact on national security policy here at home: It could make it that much less likely that lawmakers will get serious about reforming National Security Agency bulk surveillance of Americans’ communication records.

When House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Dem Rep. Adam Schiff of California as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee last week, it was an interesting choice, because Schiff has been an aggressive advocate on civil liberties issues and critic of the Obama administration’s national security overreach.

In an interview today, Schiff told me that those who are hoping for reform of bulk metadata collection need to remain vigilant against the possibility that lawmakers will seize on the Paris horror to blunt the case for change.

“Rand Paul speaks for a lot of libertarian members of Congress, and you’re still going to see the alliance between libertarian Republicans and civil-liberties-oriented Democrats,” Schiff says. “We’re going to have a vote, and if [Congressional leaders] try for straight reauthorization, they will have a lot of trouble. There was a lot of momentum last year, but it dissipated somewhat. But I still believe voices for reform in the House are a majority.”

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By:  Greg Sargent
Source: Washington Post