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First take

The Senate passage Tuesday of the “Freedom Act” (and I’m going to continue putting quote marks around pieces of legislation that try to aggrandize themselves, and distort, the way this one does) was marked down as a major defeat for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and a big win for the National Security Agency. I look at it a little differently. The new law is a little more protective of privacy than the old one, and that’s something of a plus whatever the NSA may think of it. (And the fact that the NSA likes or doesn’t like a piece of legislation doesn’t really affect whether I should.)

Paul’s major ally in the “Patriot Act” fight was Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (photo/BLM), who has been critical for many year of over-surveillance, and his statement on Tuesday said, “It is not an exaggeration to say the passage of the USA Freedom Act is the most significant victory for Americans’ privacy rights in more than a decade, and stands as a true endorsement of the principle that Americans do not need to sacrifice their liberty to have security. This program to collect the phone records of millions and millions of U.S. citizens was hatched in secret, depending on a secret interpretation of the law that Americans were not allowed to see. I have spent nearly a decade fighting mass surveillance, first working to bring this secret dragnet to light and then working to bring it to an end. The fight to protect Americans’ constitutional rights against government overreach is not over. I’m committed to plugging the backdoor search loophole that the government uses to review Americans’ communications without a warrant, to beat back efforts to build security weaknesses into our electronic devices and to require the government to get a warrant before tracking Americans’ movements electronically.”

So, some progress, which is not an awful thing, and something that might not have happened without Paul’s (and Wyden’s) stand. And by the way: Shouldn’t the news lead have more to do with whether the outcome was good for the country, than with whether it was a win or loss for Paul?

File this under an odd view of morality. From the New York Daily News: “The conservative pastor who claimed God can forgive Josh Duggar amid his molestation scandal says Caitlyn Jenner is defying the way God made her during a fire-and-brimstone Sunday Sermon.” – rs

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