Earlier this morning, the House passed HR 3361, which I call the USA Freedumber Act.
The bill passed by a large margin: 303 to 121.
That means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 86 people who voted for Amash-Conyers less than a year ago voted for a bill that in some ways expands what the government can do with phone records. For example, today’s bill endorsed the chaining of identifiers “connected” to a chain seed, rather than just chaining on actual phone calls. The FISA Court had endorsed this kind of chaining back in 2012, but it only recently became public, and the government is likely to be able to do far more of this connection-based chaining with the phone records in telecom custody. That surely includes the use of geolocation to make connections, something the government could not legally do under the current program.
In addition, those 95 people who voted against the dragnet last year today endorsed language that seems to permit — and immunize — the Internet dragnet, which has been found to be illegal. If the government chooses to use this new language (and I doubt they would have stuck it in the bill at the last minute if they didn’t intend to use it), then this bill represents a vast expansion of domestic spying off what those 86 people voted against last year.
To be fair, I doubt most of the people who flip-flopped on the dragnet understand this. Mike Rogers and Bob Goodlatte both made misleading comments during the debate, with Rogers outright lying. Even John Conyers and Jerry Nadler (and especially Sheila Jackson Lee) made comments about the bill that are only narrowly true.
That’s all another good reason to call this thing USA Freedumber.
From the roll call, here are the people who voted against the dragnet (by voting for Amash-Conyers) but voted for this bill today. Note, there are good faith reasons to do that, and I suspect a lot of these people were ill-informed about how bad the bill is now. But I do hope the people who learned to love the dragnet put some thought into what they just bought off on.