A Trip Down Memory Lane: People Warned What Would Happen When Congress Passed Bills To Enable Vast Spying
from the let's-go-back dept
But the hastily-enacted legislation, dubbed the Protect America Act, does more than permit the interception of foreign-to-foreign communications. It permits warrantless surveillance "directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States." There is no language specifically restricting surveillance activities to communications originating outside of the United States.And then, a year later, we got the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which raised more concerns:
In passing the FISA Amendments Act, Congress gave the executive branch the power to order Google, AT&T and Yahoo to forward to the government all e-mails, phone calls and text messages where one party to the conversation is thought to be overseas. President Bush signed the bill into law Thursday morning, describing it as a bill that "protect[s] the liberties of our citizens while maintaining the vital flow of intelligence."Of course, last year, the FAA was up for renewal and we spent a lot of time discussing how folks in the House and the Senate (1) pretended that it only applied to foreign calls (when it clearly did not) and then (2) ignored Senators Wyden and Udall, who repeatedly made it clear that the law was being abused in this way, and asked others in Congress to demand a full and public accountability.
And, of course, the nefariousness here is not a partisan issue. Both of the laws above were signed by President Bush, and while President Obama campaigned on the fact that he would end such practices, we can safely say that that never happened.
So, while it's good that people are now realizing just how widespread the spying is, perhaps next time, when the same group of folks raise the alarm at these bills, they shouldn't be ignored or brushed off to the side as "oh you guys again..."