The House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to extend the FISA amendment’s warrantless wiretapping powers for another five years by a 301 to 118 margin. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), was made possible in the fear-mongering aftermath of the 9/11 atrocity.
A number of lawsuits have been filed over the years, including EFF’s Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA. More recently, EFF filed a lawsuit against the US government after Senator Ron Wyden discovered that the NSA was monitoring Americans’ email and phone communications. FISA empowers the NSA to wiretap without warrant any communications going in and out of America, and provides telecoms like AT&T with immunity from lawsuits.
“Since all of the communications collected by the government under section 702 are collected without individual warrants, I believe that there should be clear rules prohibiting the government from searching through these communications in an effort to find the phone calls or emails of a particular American, unless the government has obtained a warrant or emergency authorization permitting surveillance of that American,” wrote Ron Wyden earlier this year.
The Senate still has to vote on FAA reauthorization before it heads to President Obama’s desk.
According to RT, the House rules on the FAA reauthorization debate were limited to one hour. The surveillance of American citizens apparently isn’t a matter of serious debate, just a perfunctory vote every five years. It is, in all ways, an insult to the democratic process.