On May 7th, 2015, the Second Circuit issued a ruling that declared the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was clearly unlawful under the Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The ruling provided another boost to supporters of surveillance reform and the backers of the USA FREEDOM Act. Hours after the ruling came down, several U.S. Senators – Mitch McConnell, Richard Burr, Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions, and Marco Rubio – took to the Senate Floor to forcefully defend the NSA’s bulk collection program. The Senators made some statements that merit a second look, and serious skepticism.
Claim 1: The NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records is essential to national security.“Under consideration in the House and proposed in the Senate is the so-called USA FREEDOM Act, which will eliminate the essential intelligence this program collects.” – Senator Tom Cotton
The weight of public evidence contradicts this claim, based on statements from experts with access to classified intelligence.