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Rep. Rush Holt Doesn't Really Want To Stop NSA Spying

Rep. Rush Holt Doesn't Really Want To Stop NSA Spying

by Brad MerrillOctober 10, 2013

Last month, I wrote about Rep. Rush Holt’s proposal of what he calls the “Surveillance State Repeal Act.” This is the first instance of congressional action against the NSA’s surveillance programs, but it’s also a classic example of an empty political promise.

The bill, if passed, would repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act in order to “reinstate a uniform probable cause-based warrant standard for surveillance requests, and prohibit the federal government from forcing technology companies […] to make it easier for the government to spy on the public.”

Looks good on paper, doesn’t it? But how likely is it that the bill will actually get passed?

The PATRIOT Act streamlines communication between federal agencies and guarantees that law enforcement officials have the necessary tools to fight the threat of terrorism within the United States. Sure, the act has taken its fair share of criticism—and rightfully so—but what are the odds that Congress would be willing to repeal it in full, eliminating some of the most important anti-terrorism legislation we have?

Slim to none.

And that’s just considering a repeal of the PATRIOT Act. Let’s not forget that the bill would also wipe out the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. It’s a little unreasonable to think Congress will repeal both acts, just like that.

Of course, Rep. Holt likely knew from the beginning that the bill wouldn’t pass. The issue here isn’t about public surveillance—it’s about public support for Rush Holt, should he want to run for reelection or higher office. People will remember that he “tried” to stop the NSA’s spying, whether the bill passes or not.

He’s the first congressman to formally oppose surveillance, and that will forever reshape his reputation. I wonder if his campaign manager cooked this up?

I’m all for restricting the government’s ability to form a police state, but we need to go about it in a realistic way, and for the right reasons.

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.