Comey: Effectiveness of USA Freedom Act Not Yet Clear

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) (left) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Image via flickr

FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday told lawmakers that he doesn’t yet know if the recently enacted USA Freedom Act will help or impede his agency’s ability to track communications by suspected terrorists.

“I don’t know yet, because the USA freedom act framework is sufficiently new that I can’t give you a high confidence answer on its effectiveness compared to what we used to have,” Comey said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “In theory, it should work as well or better than what we used to have, but I don’t know yet.”

Comey’s remarks came in response to a question posed by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who asked whether the new limits on phone metadata collection “entail greater risk or otherwise limit the tools available to the FBI to be able to discover those sort of communications.”

President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act into law in June, but the provisions that replaced the National Security Agency’s bulk-collection program didn’t take effect until Nov. 28.

Morning Consult