Something rare just happened: Hillary Clinton stated a concrete opinion on the NSA.
In the past, Clinton has proven an expert question-dodger on this issue, giving vague responses about how we need to have “a full comprehensive discussion” on surveillance. She once declined to say how much spying is “too much,” because “I resist saying it has to be this or that.”
“How much is too much? And how much is not enough? That’s the hard part.”
She has also called Edward Snowden’s choice to reveal the NSA’s programs “outrageous behavior.”
But, in the wake of a federal court ruling declaring the NSA’s metadata program illegal under the Patriot Act, Clinton tweeted her support for the USA Freedom Act. She even wrote the tweet herself, judging by the signed “H”:
Congress should move ahead now with the USA Freedom Act—a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security & civil liberties. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 7, 2015
The USA Freedom Act, expected to pass soon in the House, has gone through several versions in the past year, narrowly failing to pass in the Senate. It would limit the NSA’s mass data collection, requiring them to obtain records from phone companies, but has mixed reviews from privacy advocates.
The White House, eager to reauthorize key sections of the Patriot Act set to expire in June, supports the bill.
The USA Freedom Act has a complex history and tends to make strange bedfellows. Last time around, while the White House and Ted Cruz supported reforms, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell voted down the bill. Paul said he could not bring himself to vote to extend the Patriot Act.
Thursday’s court ruling may also impact the views of privacy advocates–the court declined to comment on the program’s constitutionality, and ruled that, while the government’s current legal justification is invalid, Congress could authorize the program should they choose to do so.
Justin Amash urged Congress not to approve the bill, since it would provide congressional authorization for mass surveillance.