Despite weeks of high-profile debate around the USA Freedom Act, which renewed Section 215 of the Patriot Act and by extension renewed NSA surveillance of Americans, it still managed to have little-discussed clauses totally unrelated to surveillance buried in it.
Among those clauses was 15 paragraphs of changes to US legal code related to nuclear terrorism, which will finally allow the US to finalize its ratification of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and the Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
The two treaties are a decade old, and were signed by President Bush, and ratified by the Senate near the end of his second term. There were questions surrounding existing US law, however, and not explicitly mentioning certain activities in the treaty.
The House had passed legislation trying to bring US law in line with the treaty several times, but the Senate was never able to pass them, with efforts by some Senators to take the legislation farther with calls to criminalize speech in support of nuclear terrorism and calls for wholesale surveillance to prevent it stalling the efforts. Those terms, pushed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA), were not in the final USA Freedom Act, but Grassley vowed to continue trying to get them passed.