I’m somewhat confused as to what the Senate is or is not doing with the Patriot Act. Thankfully, Steve Benen is on the case.
This admittedly gets a little messy. There’s a bipartisan House bill – the so-called “U.S.A. Freedom Act” – which Senate Republicans blocked last week, largely because McConnell had an alternative plan that would have simply extended the status quo.But McConnell’s strategy failed miserably. By the time Senate Republican decided the House bill wasn’t so bad after all, there wasn’t time to pass it before last night’s deadline – at least not without Rand Paul’s cooperation, which he wasn’t prepared to offer.It’s worth clarifying a couple of things. For example, Paul said he was targeting surveillance programs started by President Obama, which is plainly untrue – at issue are measures put in place by the Bush/Cheney administration, and supported for years by Paul’s party. The Kentucky Republican also suggested over the weekend that the entirety of the Patriot Act was on the line, and that’s not quite right, either.At issue, rather, are three important provisions within the broader law: (1) Section 215, which has served as the basis for the NSA metadata program; (2) a “lone wolf” provision related to surveillance of terrorist suspects unaffiliated with a larger group; and (3) roving wiretaps.