Senate Wants To Sneak Warrantless Spying Bill Extension Into Law Without Debate; Let’s Call Them and Tell Them No

by TREVOR TIMM, Electronic Frontier Foundation  |  published on December 20, 2012

NSA

The Senate is about to vote on an extension of the controversial FISA Amendments Act—the unconstitutional law that allows the NSA to warrantless spy on Americans speaking to people abroad. Yet you wouldn’t know it by watching CSPAN because the Senate isn’t debating it.

When Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act in 2008, despite deep privacy concerns by Americans across the political spectrum, they included an expiration date of December 31, 2012 to ensure that the law would get a thorough review. Yet Senate leaders have so far refused to schedule any time on the Senate floor for debate or consideration of vital privacy-protecting amendments.

Worse, they won’t even tell the American public when they’re going to vote on it. It’s possible they may vote on this bill—with no privacy protective changes—without any debate at all, and we won’t know until it is happening.

Contact your Senators today to tell them how important this is.

The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders—orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants—for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas. The communications only have to deal with “foreign intelligence information,” a broad term that can mean virtually anything. And one secret FISA order can be issued against groups or categories of people—potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans at once.

Senate leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell, owe the American public a debate about this law—including how many Americans have been scooped up in it, how many times it has been used in non-terrorism investigations and how much it has cost the American taxpayers.

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