Leahy: Ottawa shooting no reason to stop NSA reform

This week’s shooting at Canada’s parliament building should not give lawmakers a reason to halt work on reforming the National Security Agency (NSA), Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.) said on Friday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has been making a strong push to get the Senate to pass his USA Freedom Act this year, and rejected the notion that terrorist attacks like the one in the Canadian capital should give lawmakers pause.

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“You’re always going to find something that people say, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got a terrorist attack in Canada,' " he said Friday on CNN.

“We forget one of the biggest terrorist attacks in this country was Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City — a retired military person, churchgoing American. And nothing that they talk about in all these possible pieces of legislation would have stopped Timothy McVeigh from carrying out a horrific, murderous attack on Americans,” Leahy said.

Though critics have not specifically said that the Ottawa shooting should stop the NSA reform bill in its tracks, the incident highlighted many hawks’ fears about the threat of terrorism.

The rising threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) caused some congressional hawks to double down on their opposition to Leahy’s bill, and new terror attacks will likely only reinforce those fears.

The USA Freedom Act would end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records for U.S. calls, among other changes.

It has the support of lawmakers in both parties, the tech industry and the Obama administration, but nonetheless faces an uphill battle in Congress during the narrow lame duck window.

“My bill is just a common-sense way of saying 'Collect information but do it in a way that protects the interests of innocent people,' " Leahy said on CNN.

“You know, if you collect everything, in some ways you have nothing,” he added.