On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner proposal to amend the USA Freedom Act, the domestic metadata collection by the National Security Agency (NSA) of millions of Americans, passed unanimously by a vote of 32-0, in the House Judiciary Committee.
The USA Freedom Act would scale back the federal government’s domestic surveillance programs against Americans.
However, what was not known is that such metadata is used to kill people, Michael Hayden, a retired Air Force General and former director of NSA and CIA said and was reported by David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center on Saturday.
Cole said, “Under the USA Freedom Act, the NSA would be prohibited from collecting phone and Internet data en masse. It is precisely this power to collect our metadata that has prompted one of Congress’s most bipartisan initiatives in recent years.”
“Instead, such records would remain with the telephone and Internet companies… and the NSA would only be authorized to approach those companies on an individual, case-by-case basis… and only when it could first satisfy the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is reasonable suspicion that a particular person, entity, or account is linked to an international terrorist or a representative of a foreign government or political organization,” said Cole.
“For some, no doubt, the very fact that this bill has attracted such broad bipartisan approval will be grounds for suspicion,” Cole said. “After all, this is the same Congress that repeatedly reauthorized the 2001 USA Patriot Act, a law that was also proposed by Sensenbrenner and on which the bulk collection of metadata was said to rest… even if many members of Congress were not aware of how the NSA was using or abusing it.”
Cole wrote his opinion after he and Hayden debated the constitutionality of the NSA at the John Hopkins University and discussed the appropriate balance between personal privacy and national security in April 2014.