The Senate passed the FISA re-authorization bill this morning:
The Senate on Friday approved a bill reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in a 73-23 vote.
The bill will extend for five years the ability of U.S. intelligence authorities to conduct surveillance of suspected terrorists overseas without first getting permission from a court.
The House already approved the legislation, meaning the Senate vote will send the bill to President Obama’s desk. The president is expected to sign the bill.
You can see how your Senators voted here.
FISA was set to expire at the end of the year, so the rush to renew it lead to some bipartisan fear-mongering from some members of the Senate. Perhaps the only positive was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allowed for debate on reasonable, substantive amendments to the bill, though none of them passed. Some members, including Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), didn’t want any debate on amendments that would have enhanced the privacy of Americans or require some transparency from the Obama Administration on how FISA is being used.
The Fourth Amendment Protection Act, offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), would have protected Americans against warrantless searches of their cell phone records and other similar third-party service providers. This amendment was rejected in a 79 to 12 vote.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also presented an amendment would require the NSA to disclose how the privacy of Americans has been affected by its use of FISA. Wyden’s amendment was rejected in 52 to 43 vote.
While he has supported more oversight and transparency in the past, President Barack Obama will be signing a bill that does nothing to protect or ensure the civil liberties of Americans. They say bipartisanship is dead and that Congress can’t get along with the administration. Well, when it comes to fear-mongering, both parties seem to agree that your privacy doesn’t matter.