Demand That Congress Actually Debate FISA Amendments Act
from the about-time dept
We’ve pointed out that the unconstitutional FISA Amendments Act (along with its secret interpretation), look likely to get renewed before the end of the year. Senator Wyden is willing to drop his hold, but if he doesn’t get certain amendments in, he wants to limit the length of the extension to a short period for the sake of having a debate. Of course, that’s the same thing that happened almost exactly one year ago.
Techdirt has joined a number of organizations, including EFF, Free Press, the ACLU, the American Library Association and many, many more in asking the Senate to actually debate the issue. The folks at EFF have set up a tool to help anyone reach out to their own Senators on the subject as well.
We write to share our concern about the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act and the dwindling time remaining to have a meaningful debate and amendment process before your target adjournment at the end of next week. We ask that you contact your party leadership and let them know that you expect ample time for floor debate, privacy and transparency amendments, and possible conference with the House on ultimate legislation.
The FISA Amendments Act is a sweeping authority that allows the government to collect international communications without a warrant, even if an American in the US is on one end. After four and a half years, there is no information publicly available describing how many Americans are caught up in this surveillance program or what is done with the information once collected. There also hasn’t been a single minute of Senate floor time scheduled for debating the merits of this program or to considering amendments that would increase transparency of this program and insert basic privacy protections for our sensitive information in preparation for this reauthorization.
Is it really that ridiculous to think that the open debate we’ve been promised for years should be had before we reauthorize these tools? Is it really ridiculous to think that the NSA and other intelligence officials should be required to publicly reveal such basic things as how many Americans have had records swept up by intelligence agencies under these loose rules?