Renegade US whistleblower Edward Snowden is on the cusp of accomplishing his dream of loosening US surveillance laws after the Patriot Act expired and Congress now expected to approve the USA Freedom Act, the first time that NSA surveillance powers have been rolled back instead of extended.
The new bill comes as the controversial Patriot Act, which was collecting the phone records of million of Americans, expired at midnight last night, although many of its powers will be repackaged within the slimmed down Freedom Act.
This marks a significant setback for Republican hawks who had argued for an extension of surveillance powers to prevent further terror attacks but whose arguments were overridden by Democratic doves angered by the bulk collection of phone records of ordinary American’s permitted by the Patriot Act.
The Freedom Act explicitly bans such practices and introduces transparency for other surveillance techniques for the first time.
By taking the vote up to the wire however there will be no surveillance laws in force until early next week at the earliest, prompting White House press secretary Josh Earnest to say: “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible.”