Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing today to talk about “continued oversight of US Government Surveillance.” Leahy is also a sponsor of the Senate version of a bill (PDF) dubbed the USA Freedom Act (PDF), one of a few that would ban bulk data collection.

The bill’s sponsors have made it unequivocal that they want to shut down the bulk data collection programs. In Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) breakdown of the bill, the first point is in boldface: “End bulk data collection of Americans’ communication records.” But a top DOJ lawyer who testified at today’s hearing said he sees some ambiguity in the language of the bill, and the government probably won’t shut down any programs—at least not without a court fight.     

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