The House on Wednesday reauthorized for five years broad electronic eavesdropping powers that legalized and expanded the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.
The FISA Amendments Act, which is expiring at year’s end, allows the government to electronically eavesdrop on Americans’ phone calls and e-mails without a probable-cause warrant so long as one of the parties to the communication is believed outside the United States. The communications may be intercepted ”œto acquire foreign intelligence information.”
The government has also interpreted the law to mean that as long as the real target is al-Qaida, the government can wiretap purely domestic e-mails and phone calls without getting a warrant from a judge. That’s according to David Kris, a former top anti-terrorism attorney at the Justice Department.
The measure is sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and the Obama administration has called its passage a top intelligence priority.
…The vote was 301-118 in favor of passage, with 111 Democrats and seven Republicans voting no.
It seems to me that those are 111 Democrats who should be in a new, different, party – along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) who has put a hold on the matching Senate bill, demanding that the Obama administration should at least disclose how many Americans’ communications have been intercepted under the law, so we can see just how widespread the spying is.