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Former CIA Officer: Freedom Act 'Nothing to Do With Freedom'

Former US Central Intelligence Agency officer Larry Johnson told Sputnik that the USA Freedom Act has more to do with the political stance of US Congress than national security or freedom.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The USA Freedom Act that amends US National Security Agency’s (NSA) program of telephone metadata collection has more to do with the political stance of US Congress than national security or freedom, former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Larry Johnson told Sputnik.

“Something called USA Freedom Act has nothing to do with freedom,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “I think this is all political theater, and it has very little to do with security.”

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Earlier on Tuesday, the US Senate approved the Freedom Act to end mass surveillance on US citizens conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) under provisions of USA Patriot Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended NSA’s practices, saying they are essential to protecting US security.

McConnell initially called to end the Freedom Act debate on Monday evening, but was opposed by Senator Rand Paul, a vocal opponent to US government surveillance. Paul’s dissent forced the vote to be postponed until Tuesday.

Johnson argued that debates around the legislations were caused by political posturing of Congressmen who did not want “to appear weak on security.”

“This is all people just covering themselves, so that if something happens they don’t get blamed,” he added.

Moreover, Johnson said Senator Paul was correct in asserting there are people in Washington, DC who secretly hope the United States may be attacked.

“It can justify this expansion of government power,” Johnson added.

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The former CIA officer noted, however, robust security procedures had been in place even before Congress passed the Patriot Act in 2001.

“So it is not like we had no ability before that and then suddenly with the passage of Patriot Act we magically acquired new capabilities,” Johnson said.

On Tuesday, Obama announced on Twitter shortly after the US Senate vote that he would sign the Freedom Act.

Critics of the Freedom Act argue that the bill does not go far enough. US Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in a press release that he voted against the legislation because it will still give US law enforcement too much access to vast databases of information on millions of Americans.

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