With the Blessing of Barack Husein Obama, the Senate on Friday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the warrantless wiretapping program.
Barack Obama said: “Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.”
The FISA Amendments Act, (.pdf) which was expiring Monday at midnight, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted “to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
House approved the measure in September. President Barack Obama, who said the spy powers were a national security priority, is expected to quickly sign the package before the law expires in the coming days. In the House, the package passed 301-118 and it passed the Senate on a 73-23 vote.
The controversial bill, which allows federal agencies to eavesdrop on communications and review email without following an open and public warrant process, has long been a target for privacy and rights groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is involved in a Supreme Court case over FISA.
The FISA Amendments Act gives the government nearly carte blanche spying powers.
After Obama signs the legislation, the spy powers and warrantless wiretapping program won’t expire until December 31, 2017.
As our rights and liberties erode and the reach of government expands and intrudes into our lives, liberties and the pursuit of happiness, there must be somewhere that we take a stand, we need to start asking our politicians how they will vote on these issues BEFORE we elect them.