By Mark Wachtler
April 11, 2015. Washington. (ONN) For the second time in three years, a Bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that would repeal the infamous 2001 Patriot Act. Unlike the first attempt that was only co-sponsored by Democrats, the most recent Bill is a bipartisan effort. HR 1466 would repeal the Patriot Act, FISA, and the mass surveillance Executive Order 12333, signed by President Reagan in 1981. The legislation isn’t given much chance of passing into law as the leadership of both establishment Parties oppose the repeal of any portion of the surveillance state.
Rep Mark Pocan (D-WI), main sponsor of HR 1466, the Surveillance State Repeal Act. Image courtesy of WashingtonBlade.com.
Considering the overwhelming outrage by the American people over the government’s blanket domestic espionage programs, it’s surprising that the 2013 Surveillance State Repeal Act didn’t garner more support. The Bill accumulated ten co-sponsors, was assigned to four Committees and six Sub-Committees. But not a single vote was ever taken to advance them out of Committee and to the full House. Supporters of the effort to stop the universal surveillance of the American people hope this year’s effort will be more successful.
HR 1466 - Surveillance State Repeal Act of 2015
In 2013, Rep Mark Pocan (D-WI) was one of ten Democrat Congressmen who co-sponsored the Patriot Act repeal Bill. This time, he’s the main sponsor and he has a Republican co-sponsor signed on with him. Introduced on March 19, 2015, the new Bill was proposed by five Congressmen and already has an additional Representative who’s signed on since then. The sponsors include Rep Pocan, Rep Thomas Massie (R-KY), Rep Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rep James McGovern (D-MA), Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep Michael Capuano (D-MA).
As detailed by the House website, HR 1466 was immediately referred to a number of House Committees upon its introduction. The summary explains that the Surveillance State Repeal Act of 2015 was, ‘Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Intelligence (Permanent Select), Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Energy and Commerce, Education and the Workforce, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker.’
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What the Bill would repeal and require
HR 1466’s official description gives a brief overview of the Bill’s ramifications. The legislation, ‘Repeals the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (thereby restoring or reviving provisions amended or repealed by such Acts as if such Acts had not been enacted), except with respect to reports to Congress regarding court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and the acquisition of intelligence information concerning an entity not substantially composed of US persons that is engaged in the international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.’
As currently written, the Bill would also prohibit the government from collecting information on an American citizen, ‘without a warrant based on probable cause.’ If passed, it would also force the Director of the Office of National Intelligence, and its 16 spy agencies to, ‘destroy any information collected under the repealed Acts, or acquired under Executive Order 12333 without a warrant.’
The law would also protect electronics manufacturers from being forced by the government to include encryption-free back doors to their devices and services allowing spy agencies to monitor their customers. Finally, the Bill attempts to protect future whistleblowers that come forward with evidence that the government isn’t abiding by the law.
Little chance of passage
Illustrating that once you go from Republic to Empire, it’s nearly impossible to go back, experts are already warning that HR 1466 has almost no chance of passing. Much like previous attempts to reign in the government’s massive blanket domestic espionage programs, this latest effort will most likely pit regular Americans from all walks of the political spectrum supporting the Bill against a bipartisan coalition of the most powerful establishment leaders from both Parties opposing it.
That uphill fight isn’t deterring the Bill’s main sponsor however. “This isn’t just tinkering around the edges,” Rep Mark Pocan was reported by The Hill explaining during a Capitol Hill briefing after he introduced the legislation, “This is a meaningful overhaul of the system, getting rid of essentially all parameters of the Patriot Act.”
Republican co-sponsor Rep Thomas Massie also commented on the Bill with targeted remarks about the whistleblower portion of the newly proposed HR 1466. “Really, what we need are new whistleblower protections so that the next Edward Snowden doesn’t have to go to Russia or Hong Kong or whatever the case may be just for disclosing this,” he said, “We need to repeal all of this junk and just start over.”
Illustrating the uphill battle the co-sponsors and their supporters have in front of them, The Hill writes, ‘The bill is likely to be a nonstarter for leaders in Congress, who have been worried that even much milder reforms to the nation’s spying laws would tragically handicap the nation’s ability to fight terrorists. A similar bill was introduced in 2013 but failed to gain any movement in the House.’
Shutting down the surveillance state
The grassroots movement to end America’s surveillance state illustrates yet again the country’s new political battle lines. We at Whiteout Press have long warned that the left-right-fight has become secondary. The new political divide is the establishment vs. the people, Empire vs. Republic, the American oligarchs vs. the peasants with pitchforks.
Lining up to support HR 1466 and the repeal of America’s surveillance state are a wide range of organizations, news outlets and politicians. Some, like the New York Times, publicly supported the effort in 2013. While others have already jumped on board the latest attempt. They include LiberalAmerica.org on the left and FreedomWorks.org on the right.
For more information on the HR 1466 - the Surveillance State Repeal Act of 2015, visit Congress.gov.