On Mitch’s PATRIOT Gambit

Mitch McConnell, as you’ve probably heard, has just introduced a bill to reauthorize the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act until 2020.

The move has elicited a bunch of outraged comments — as if anyone should ever expect anything but dickishness from Mitch McConnell. But few interesting analytical comments.

For example, Mitch is doing this under Rule 14, meaning it bypasses normal committee process. But that’s not as unusual, in ultimate effect, as people are making out. After all, last year the House Judiciary Committee was forced to adopt a much more conservative opening bill under threat of having its jurisdiction stripped entirely — something that Bob Goodlatte surely liked because it helped him rein in the reformers on his committee. Particularly given Chuck Grassley’s dawdling, I suspect something similar is at issue, an effort to give him leverage to rein in last year’s USA Freedom Act in order to undercut Mitch’s ploy.

Moreover, I think it would be utterly naive to believe Mitch and Richard Burr when they claim they would prefer straight reauthorization.

That’s because we know the IC can’t do everything they want to do under Section 215 right now. While reports that they only get 30% of calls are misleading (not least because NSA gets plenty of international calls into the US under EO 12333), for legal or technical or some other reason, the NSA isn’t currently getting all the records it needs to have full coverage. But it could get all or almost all if it worked with providers.

In addition — and this may be related — the NSA has never been able to turn its automated processes back on for US collected telephone data since they had to turn them off in 2009. They gave up trying last year, when Obama decided to move data to the providers. I suspect that the combination of mandated assistance, record delivery in optimal form, and immunity will permit NSA to dump this data into its existing automated system.

So while Mitch and Burr may pretend they’d love straight reauthorization, it is far, far more likely they’re using this gambit to demand changes to USAF that permit the IC to claim more authorities while pretending to reluctantly adopt reform.

And chief on that list is likely to be data retention, something reformers have been conspicuously silent about since Dianne Feinstein revealed USAF would have had a data retention handshake, but not a mandate. Data retention is why most SSCI members opposed USAF last year, it’s why Bill Nelson (working off his dated understanding of the program from when he served on SSCI) voted against it, and Bob Litt has renewed his emphasis on data retention.

Moreover, given the debates about encryption of the last year, especially Jim Comey’s concerns that Apple would have an unfair advantage over Verizon if it can shield iMessage data, I suspect that by data retention they also mean “forced retention of non-telephony messaging metadata.” I’m not sure whether they would be able to pull this off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the IC plans to use “NSA reform” as an opportunity to force Apple to keep iMessage metadata.

So that’s what I expect this is about: I expect Mitch deliberately caused outright panic among those fighting straight reauthorization that even he doesn’t really want to demand more things from this “reform” bill.


4 replies
  1. wallace says:

    quote”The move has elicited a bunch of outraged comments — as if anyone should ever expect anything but dickishness from Mitch McConnell.”unquote

    Dickishness??? Oh phullleeeesee. Spare me your analytical civility.
    The Framers would drag this shit eating scumbag traitor screaming from his granite palace and burned alive in the street.

    quote”But few interesting analytical comments.”unquote

    As if analytical comment achieves a goddammed thing more than less interesting verbal spit in his pig sucking face fucking outrage. So what’s the difference, he’ll still sell this nation down the proverbial abyss while counting the bucks accruing in his next election campaign Pac, all the while raising his middle finger to comment..analytical or not. This fucker doesn’t give a flying fuck what you, I or anyone else thinks. He’d sell his wife to the highest bidder at a drop of a hat.
    As for your analysis.. when is the last time your analysis did a goddamn thing to change ANYTHING!!!

    My two cents may mean diddley squat, but at least I call a horse a horse. Now, excuse me while I burn McConnell and his IC buddy at the stake in effigy. If nothing else.. it makes me smile.

  2. wallace says:

    Meanwhile, that war criminal scumbag of the universe, Petraeus, gets off with a $100k fine and no jail time for doing the same thing other human beings are sentenced to long terms in the US gulag for exposing the true war criminality of the USG’s Legal Imperialism..

  3. wallace says:


    If this isn’t living proof that the Dumbest Country on the Planet will accept the most depraved, deviant, defiant system on the planet that will put you in prison for the slightest slight of their so called “rule of law” while protecting their elite..I don’t know what is. Furthermore..if this doesn’t illicit a warning to your cognitive dissonance red lights.. nothing will. For those that don’t get it.. I have no compassion. For those that do.. I suggest you arm yourself. Just as those Framers did that gave you the right.

    • RUKidding says:

      Well, if anything, my loathing of how Gen Betrayus got away with it is greater than yours, but I figure that Betrayus probably had some “goods” on other Elites, plus after all, Betrayus is “in the club” yadda yadda yadda… most citizens are totally ignorant; don’t give a stuff; and hence this crap will continue unabated, imo.
      As far as arming oneself goes: do whatever you please, but do you really think that individual citizens can go up against what are clearly now heavily armed and militarized PDs across the nation. All of the recent cold-blooded killings of mainly black male youth (albeit there’s lots of other citizens killed in cold blood by the PDs of all ages, genders and ethnicities) – which have garnered deliberate media hype & attention mainly as a big fat old WARNING that this, too, can and will happen to you if you don’t toe the line – is to let us know just what we’d be up against should some citizens awaken from their heavily brainwashed stupors and, you know, actually figure out that We, the People, have been royally screwed by the 1% and their lackeys in the District of Criminals.

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