US Senate approves reform of NSA surveillance bill

Washington, June 3 (IANS/EFE) The US Senate has approved the reform of the National Security Agency surveillance bill without attaching any amendments, ensuring that only President Barack Obama’s signature is now required to reinstate the program.

Some of the parts of the Patriot Act expired after senators were not able to agree on approving the reform bill, which was opposed mainly by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and also by Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican, for very different reasons.

Thus, the US will continue with its practice of monitoring phone calls but it will not be the government that will collect massive amounts of information on citizens’ phone records, but rather this task will pass into the hands of the telephone companies, which will specifically provide phone records to the authorities if a warrant is issued for security reasons.

In a 67-32 vote, senators put an end to two weeks of disagreement between two Republican factions, despite the fact that the original text of the bill was approved quickly and in a bipartisan manner by House in mid-May.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Obama both agreed to support the reform of the Patriot Act.

But the obstacle to the bill arose within the heart of the Republican caucus.

While Paul is a firm critic of massive espionage carried out by the United States in keeping with the law, McConnell wanted to keep the language as it was, including the controversial ability of the government to compile huge amounts of data on telephone users.

Given the failure of senators to agree on the reform before the law was due to lapse, McConnell ultimately agreed to accept it with several amendments to ensure that the monitoring programs function in accord with his wishes.

The presentation of the modifications means that there will be an even greater delay before the law is reactivated, given that the text must now be sent back to the White House, but all the amendments McConnell had wanted were rejected on Tuesday by the senators.

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