Sen. Rand Paul is claiming victory over last night’s expiration of several major portions of the Patriot Act, but he may be merely grandstanding as the Senate is expected to quickly reauthorize the expired laws.
The Senate entered a debate period late Sunday on the Patriot Act that pushed beyond the midnight deadline. With the debate ongoing, that effectively ends the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program. President Barack Obama and government officials spent last week warning of serious national security consequences, while the most ardent advocates of NSA reform were prepared to call a bluff they saw as little more than fear-mongering. The National Security Agency officially shut down the bulk metadata collection program officially at 7:44 p.m. Sunday night, a senior government official told CNN’s Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown. Officials had previously indicated they would shut the program down around 8 p.m. to ensure all procedures were in place before the midnight deadline. The Senate is expected to restore the expiring authorities midweek.