Senate Approves Warrantless Wiretapping Spy Bill
TheBlaze’s Liz Klimas contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Congress has voted to renew the government’s authority to monitor electronic communications of foreigners abroad.
It’s a classified program to identify terrorists and spies without getting court orders for each intercept. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act program was on the brink of expiring by year’s end.
But the Senate on Friday approved a five-year extension by a 73-23 vote and sent the bill to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it.
Lawmakers rejected arguments from an unusual combination of Democratic liberals and ideological Republican conservatives. They demanded to know about any Americans whose communications were swept up in the foreign intercepts.
The intelligence community and leaders of the Senate’s intelligence committee say the information is classified and oppose the disclosure.
Privacy and civil rights advocates, like the American Civil Liberties Union, have spoken out against the reauthorization act. In a recent blog post about the act, the ACLU criticized the law for allowing monitoring of “American communications without meaningful judicial oversight and without probable cause or any finding of wrongdoing.” It called for those in the House to demand those in the Obama administration disclose the following information, which they should then take into account before, reauthorizing FISA:
- Copies of FISA court opinions interpreting our Fourth Amendment rights under the FAA, with redactions to protect sensitive information (the Department of Justice can write summaries of law if necessary);
- A rough estimate of how many Americans are surveilled under the FAA every year;
- A description of the rules that govern how American information picked up by FAA surveillance is protected.
“Can you believe that 435 members of Congress who have sworn to uphold the Constitution are about to vote on a sweeping intelligence gathering law without this basic information?” the ACLU’s Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson wrote.
TheBlaze reported earlier this year senators asking the National Security Administration for the number of people spied upon through this program were issued a response from the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence I. Charles McCullough. The response said not only that the information regarding that is classified but also that divulging it could violate the privacy of persons spied upon.
The amendment was brought to the floor under a closed ruling, meaning no amendments were allowed to be made to it. OBM Watch calls it “troubling” that the House seems to have “fast tracked” reauthorization of this act in September.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. said, “While it’s certainly appropriate for our government to gather foreign intelligence and while some degree of secrecy is necessary, it’s also vital in a free society that we limit government, protect the constitutional rights of Americans here and abroad, and limit warrantless spying to genuine foreign intelligence.
“Unfortunately we have seen repeatedly how even the very minimal restraints Congress put on FISA have been violated,” Nadler said. “We should address those abuses. Congress has an obligation to exert more control over spy agencies than simply to give them a blank check for another five years.”
The act has drawn harsh criticism from the Left and Right alike. As liberal outlet Salon.com put it Thursday: “The FISA Amendments Act makes a joke of the entire Fourth Amendment ‘warrant’ requirement, as the government now can seek ‘programmatic warrants’ that allow them to indiscriminately collect massive amounts of data from broadly defined ‘targets’ over the course of a year.”
- Shock Video Surfaces: Meat Cleaver-Wielding Man Shouts ‘You People Will Never Be Safe!’ Moments After Gruesome London Attack 484 Comments
- Why Were DHS Agents Seemingly Monitoring Multiple Tea Party IRS Protests Across the Country on Tuesday? 471 Comments
- Confusion Erupts in IRS Hearing After Lois Lerner Tries to Plead the 5th — Watch It All Unfold 462 Comments
- The Tense Exchange Between Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Former IRS Head You’ve Been Waiting for…and It Doesn’t Disappoint 356 Comments
- CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Has Awkward Moment With Okla. Tornado Survivor After Asking If She ‘Thanked the Lord’ 327 Comments
- Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ Read More
- Beck Issues Challenge to People of Faith in Wake of Okla. Tornado: ‘What Have You Done?’ Read More
- ‘Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad!: Michelle Malkin Rips Progressives, Clashes With Lib Radio Host Over Islamic Terrorism and the London Machete Attack Read More
- Ariz. Lawmaker Surprises Colleagues, Comes Out as an Atheist While Delivering Daily Prayer Read More
- This Is How Texas Politicians Are Fighting Against the Atheist-Led ‘War on Christmas’ Read More
- Weekly Unemployment Benefits Tumble Read More
- Why Is This German Company Recruiting Tech Staff With Autism? Read More
- House Votes to Speed up Keystone Pipeline: Here’s Everyone Who Voted for and Against It Read More
- Here are the 7 Most Explosive & Informative Moments from Today’s IRS Hearing Read More
- Foreign Banks Operating on U.S. Soil Have Just Set a Record Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ 118 Comments
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- ‘Middle class champion’ Elizabeth Warren joins Senate Millionaires Club
- Matt Drudge calls MSNBC host ‘squirrely’…
- Emails suggest Treasury delayed alerting Congress to Tea Party targeting scheme
- Karl Rove advises GOP not to threaten impeachment
- Gang of 8 needs to fix massive Obamacare loophole with immigration bill
- Obama to address drones, Gitmo in security speech
- UN: 22 deaths worldwide from coronavirus
- Togo police fire tear gas at protesters
- McQuaid: Panel to study UCI-Armstrong 'collusion'
- Jewelry stolen a 2nd time during Cannes festival
- Russian court denies Pussy Riot's Alekhina parole
- Czech police seek US man suspected of 4 murders
- Jerry Lewis repeats his distaste for female comics