Tuesday, April 24, 2018

House 'fix' of spy program seen as ineffectual, watered down

WASHINGTON — While members of Congress reveled in a rare show of bipartisanship Thursday as they approved legislation to dramatically change the federal government's beleaguered bulk data collection system, an influential chorus of critics warned the bill was little more than a watered-down feel-good exercise.

The 303-121 vote in the House of Representatives for the USA Freedom Act got lavish praise from key members of both political parties. Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., talked of a "sweet spot" between maintaining national security and protecting Americans' privacy, and a parade of politicians about to head home for a long Memorial Day recess agreed.

But just beneath the surface were serious concerns. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he was disappointed the changes didn't go far enough.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had stronger feelings. "I am gravely concerned that the changes that have been made to the House version of this bill have watered it down so far that it fails to protect Americans from suspicion-less mass surveillance," he said.

Many legal watchdog groups agreed. "To call this a disappointment is an understatement." said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security program.

Nuala O'Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, found the bill "now offers only mild reform and goes against the overwhelming support for definitively ending bulk collection."

Lawmakers opposing the bill were largely a collection of libertarian Republicans and liberal Democrats.

"This legislation still allows the government to collect everything they want against Americans — to treat Americans as suspects first and citizens second," said Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.

The bill would end the bulk collection of Americans' telephone and electronic communications under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Call-detail records can only be gathered on a case-by-case basis, and only after approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Comments
Murphy-Jolly idea comes amid a push for a new approach to politics

Murphy-Jolly idea comes amid a push for a new approach to politics

For those who complain that politics is too political, two former Florida congressmen are floating an unprecedented antidote: A bipartisan ticket for governor.Patrick Murphy would enter the Democratic primary and if he won the nomination, would name ...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Acknowledging the forecast for heavy rain much of the night, the Orioles postponed tonight's game against the Rays.The teams will play a doubleheader – single admission – on Saturday, May 12, when the Rays next visit.The Orioles are expec...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils shorthanded

How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils shorthanded

TAMPA — The Lightning rolled past the Devils in five games of the Stanley Cup playoffs quarterfinal series largely because the penalty kill became a beast, killing off 16 of 19, including the final 15 when down a man.Two of those three goals al...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Residents went three days without running water at unlicensed ALFs

Residents went three days without running water at unlicensed ALFs

ST. PETERSBURG — Three days.That’s how long residents of two unlicensed assisted living facilities went without running water before the authorities shut the facilities down last week.The Public Works Department said it turned off the water at 3418 a...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — A Lakewood High School student was killed and two others were injured when their car struck a tree just outside the campus on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.All three boys involved in the crash were 18 and seniors, officials ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

TAMPA — For a few moments late Monday night, Jeff Hinton’s new home in Ruskin’s Paradise Mobile Home and RV Park felt less like paradise and more like his native Iowa’s "Tornado Alley."In an instant, the rain that had come in waves through the day hi...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Here’s a clue that Tom Lee is about to announce a run for Congress

Here’s a clue that Tom Lee is about to announce a run for Congress

While political figures around the Tampa Bay area hang in suspense over state Sen. Tom Lee's decision about his political future, he came a step closer Tuesday to a run for Congress.Lee, a Republican from Thonotosassa, announced last week that he won...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

If you’ve ever complained about other motorists on the road, you may have been justified. The Sunshine State ranked No. 8 on GasBuddy.com’s list of states with the most aggressive drivers."Our findings indicate that states with densely populated citi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Auditor's handling of whistleblower's claims is criticized

Auditor's handling of whistleblower's claims is criticized

Democratic Ohio attorney general candidate Steven Dettelbach says his GOP opponent, Auditor Dave Yost, should have referred to authorities a whistleblower's allegations of intentional attendance inflation at the state's then-largest online charter school
Updated: 1 hour ago