On its merits it is a pretty bad bill. The bill was gutted at the last minute, making it only a shade of what was originally proposed. But the fact that Congress even felt the need to vote for a plan to “reform” the NSA is a validation of Edward Snowden.
Snowden acted because he believed the American people would not support what was being done in their name. He thought the NSA was only able to engage in a massive expansion of power because the decisions were made in secret, separate from the democratic process of checks and balances which are supposed to govern everything in this country.
Once the NSA’s behavior was made public Congress felt compelled by the electorate to try to “fix” it, even if this fix is a mostly a superficial bandage.
Snowden was right. The NSA could only behave how they did by hiding from the democratic oversight everything in our government should be subjected to.
This first action is very weak but, it is the byproduct of strong public pressure for change. More will come if regular people make it clear these scraps won’t placate them.
Image by thierry ehrmann under Creative Commons license