When confronted with a giant cache of secret documents from Edward Snowden, the first story Glenn Greenwald wrote was about the National Security Agency’s “bulk collection” program harvesting data from every US phone call. Seventeen months after that program was made public, it may finally get an up-or-down vote in the US Senate.
Yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took action to move the USA Freedom Act toward a debate and a vote. That’s a big turnaround from September, when Senate sources said passing the act “wasn’t a top priority.” With Reid’s support, a vote could come as early as next week.
Reid has filed for a “cloture” vote to end debate, which will require 60 votes. That will be the biggest hurdle, since the bill can then be passed out of the Senate with a simple majority. It’s not a foregone conclusion that it will pass; some hawkish Senators are on record as being strong supporters of bulk surveillance, including Select Intelligence Committee head Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
At least this moves the process along. The authoritarians in the Senate, including some powerful Democrats and Republicans, had prevented this bill from moving forward.
Perhaps those interesting the more distributed and democratic principles we were founded on (which includes both Democrats and Republicans) may have a chance to actually do something that puts even the slightest burden on the security state.
I hope it can move us forward, even if it fails. Because the battle between authority and democracy is the pivotal conflict of the current age.