WASHINGTON, DC – The nation’s ability to keep an eye on potential terrorists suffered a case of temporary blindness thanks to the US Senate.
The poke in the eye came through the failure to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act that expired at the stroke of midnight.
The debate saw Democrats and Republicans on the same side, with some Republicans squaring off against each other.
Section 215 is the most well-known, but least understood, provision. It allowed the National Security Agency to collect bulk phone records of Americans not suspected of crimes, much less terrorism. The so-called roving wiretap provision also expired. This allowed the tracking of potential terror suspects as they used different phones.
The third part of the Patriot Act covered lone wolves. These are suspected terrorists acting alone, with no direct ties to known terror groups or rogue nations.
The senate didn’t get to the USA Freedom Act before time ran out. The House passed it last week.
It’s pretty much the same as the Patriot Act, except phone companies would store the phone records and the government would have to get a warrant to look at them.
The smart money says the Senate will pass it within the next few days.
Until then, Uncle Sam will be playing blind-man’s bluff, and trying real hard not to get tagged.