Senate set to approve FISA spying bill

Published on Russia Today RT, Dec. 27, 2012.

With less than a week until a powerful legislation expires that lets the government eavesdrop on the phone and email conversations of Americans, the Senate has convened in DC to discuss whether or not to renew the FISA Amendment Act.  

The 2008 FISA Amendment Act, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of the 1970s, allows the government to wiretap any conversation involving US citizens, without obtaining a warrant, as long as investigators reasonably suspect those talks to involve at least one party located outside of the United States. Despite demands from members of Washington’s intelligence committee, though, very little information if any has been made available about how the government uses the FISA Amendment Act, or FAA, and whom they target … //

… Should the Senate not re-new the FAA before December 31, the bill will expire and the warrantless wiretapping provisions will be erased. On Thursday, December 27, members of the Senate met in Washington to begin discussing the act. A vote was scheduled later in the afternoon, but then was moved to Friday.

If the FAA is renewed, the federal government will be extended the ability to warrantlessly wiretap Americans for another five years. If that is the case, though, Congress will be given another chance to consider provisions that will provide for at least some transparency only a day later.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a long-time opponent of FISA, is expected to have the chance to introduce an amendment on Friday that, if approved, will force the National Security Agency (NSA) to finally open up about their use of the FAA’s warrantless wiretapping provisions.

Earlier this year, Sen. Wyden told Wired’s Danger Room, “If no one will even estimate how many Americans have had their communications collected under this law then it is all the more important that Congress act to close the ‘back door searches’ loophole, to keep the government from searching for Americans’ phone calls and emails without a warrant.”

Wyden — who sits on the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committees — has unsuccessfully asked time and time against for the NSA to explain how they use the FAA. Even if the FAA is renewed this week, the approval of Sen. Wyden’s proposed amendment would mean the NSA would have to at least give a general estimate of how many Americans it has targeted since 2008.

Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are all expected to propose amendments that will influence how the NSA uses the FAA too.
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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA on en.wikipedia: … is an Act of Congress (signed by President Jimmy Carter) which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” (which may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of being engaged in espionage and violating U.S. law on territory under United States control).[1] The law does not apply outside the US …;

Indian gang-rape victim commits suicide, on Russia Today RT, Dec. 28, 2012: Amid widespread outrage over a gang rape in Delhi, another victim of sexual assault in India has committed suicide after police and suspects from an influential cast pressured her to drop the case …;

RT recalls 2012: Assange’s ordeal, on Russia Today RT, Dec. 27, 2012: watch the short video, 1.38 min … WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses members of the media and supporters from the window of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, west London. In 2012 Julian Assange was fighting against extradition in the UK courts. He lost and ended up in the Ecuadorian embassy: granted asylum, but unable to leave. Yet he managed to host his own show on RT, write a book and talk about freedom of speech … (full text and pictures on RT). (Julian Assange, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, is now under political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy. Assange is the co-author of the new book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet); … watch also the video which Bradley Manning released to wikileaks, becoming the reason for his imprisonnement: short version 1.41 min, long version 39.14 min.

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