Just three days after the National Security Agency's (NSA) controversial bulk data surveillance program faded into the sunset, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) unveiled a new bill designed to skirt the protections offered by the USA Freedom Act to let the government keep the phone records it has already collected for five years.
The bill, called the Liberty Through Strength Act II, would also extend permanently the so-called “lone wolf” provision set to expire in 2019 and, according to a release from Cotton, “make permanent congressional authorizations for counterterrorism tools that are vital to tracking and stopping attacks on Americans.”
“On Sunday our constitutional, legal, and proven NSA collection architecture shifted to an untested, less effective system in the dead of the night,” Cotton said in the release. “This shift came at a time when our enemies are emboldened and we face an elevated national security threat.”
The Arkansas senator, who attempted unsuccessfully to push forward similar legislation before Thanksgiving, said that “President Obama has decided that he will press delete on the metadata records we currently have, making it impossible to identify terrorist connections among these data that would reveal ISIS and al Qaeda sleeper cells."
FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon, in comments emailed to SCMagazine.com, called Cotton's proposed legislation “Big Brother on steroids.” The activist questioned the motives of Cotton and others who seemingly “are willing to sacrifice our liberties on the altar of security are treating Orwell's 1984 as a how-to-guide instead of a warning.”
By letting the intelligence agency “to keep the metadata records they illegally obtained through warrantless mass surveillance is a slap in the face to all who supported the USA Freedom Act and stood up for our constitutionally protected rights,” Brandon said. “Those who support NSA bulk surveillance can't point to any successful instances of where it stopped an attack. But some people never learn, and Senator Tom Cotton is one of them. Senator Cotton's bill won't make use safer, but it will make us less free.”