Rep. Lofgren explains how secrecy undermines the USA Freedom Act and democratic process

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Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is right:

The USA Freedom Act started out as an imperfect bill aimed at solving a serious problem. The right and left have rallied around it as the best opportunity to curb apparently abusive dragnet surveillance by the National Security Agency.

But that was before the White House made a closed-door, 11th-hour effort to gut the bill. Worse, that effort is succeeding.

The White House and other pro-surveillance advocates are relying on opaque negotiations that occurred behind closed doors in order to scuttle meaningful surveillance reform.

That opacity alone is disturbing. But the White House is now relying on strong-arm tactics, in secret, scoring a series of seemingly subtle changes that will substantially gut the bill. As Rep. Lofgren said today, the bill that the House Judiciary Committee marked up (and which passed unanimously) is not the same as the bill that the House will now vote on.

And House Members have only a few hours to piece together their position. This is no way to approach a key democratic reform effort — it’s a way to evade democratic processes and thwart reform.