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Eli Lake

Congress Falls Out of Love With the Surveillance State

Making the NSA work a bit harder to spy on Americans.
I still know what you texted last summer.

I still know what you texted last summer.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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Congress is poised for the first time since 9/11 to take back some of the extraordinary powers it granted to the executive branch. The courts have scrapped military tribunals for detainees and President Obama has ended water boarding. But Congress has pretty much been a rubber stamp during the war on terror.

Not anymore. After resisting efforts from some in his own party and the House of Representatives to revoke the NSA's authority to collect telephone records in bulk, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will allow a vote this week on the USA Freedom Act. That bill would end the NSA's bulk collection of telephone metadata, but allow the NSA and FBI to query this data stored by the phone companies.