After being obliged under law to stop the illegal NSA bulk surveillance over the last weekend in May, President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act into law Tuesday, setting the stage for the resumption of the bulk surveillance, something the Justice Department is suggesting won’t take long.
Indeed, it took the Justice Department less than an hour after the president’s signature was made to release a memo announcing its intentions to seek a new court order for the “bulk production of tangible things under the law.”
The memo noted that courts had signed off on bulk collection of telephone metadata in the past, and predicted they would do so again under the new law under “a new mechanism” which includes increased cooperation from phone companies.
Though officials have assured us they did so, we really only have their word for it that the NSA surveillance program actually stopped for those 36 hours between expiry and the Obama signature on the USA Freedom Act.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt that, as the FBI kept its own telephone surveillance program going through that period without any legal basis. The NSA program was conducted for years in total secrecy, and it’s not hard to imagine it continued on through last Monday, irrespective of a brief change in the law.