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Congress Considers NSA Program Facing Expiration, Court Ruling

“Can Congress overrule a court decision without changing a word in the law? That’s the question that lawmakers are wrestling with after a federal appeals court ruled last week that a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program is illegal,” explains National Journal .  

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit didn’t address the claims that the program violates constitutional privacy rights. But the judges did rule that the NSA’s mass collection of millions of U.S. phone records oversteps the authority that Congress gave the agency under the Patriot Act.”  

“The key provision of the Patriot Act, Section 215, is set to expire in just a few weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are pushing for a clean reauthorization of the surveillance law… Extending the law this time might give it a new meaning because, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks of classified documents, lawmakers would understand for the first time what they were actually voting on.”  

Benjamin Wittes : “Judge Lynch’s opinion is…workmanlike and serious. There are matters within it on which reasonable people might disagree, though I tend to agree with the decision’s bottom line. But it’s not a bomb-throwing opinion, by any means. And for this reason, it will concentrate a lot of minds with just three weeks to go before Section 215 disappears in a puff of smoke. That’s a very good thing: it’s good for civil libertarians; it’s good for the administration; and it’s good for NSA.”

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