Secrecy News

Amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

The Senate Intelligence Committee proposal to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is under consideration on the Senate floor today, “does not contain adequate protections to guard against the kind of Executive abuse that occurred with the [Terrorist Surveillance Program] and related programs,” according to a new Senate Judiciary Committee report.

“Congress is prepared to grant the Administration the authority it needs to surveil targets overseas. But the unilateral decision by the Executive in the years following 9/11 to surveil Americans’ communications contrary to FISA illustrates the need for Congress to provide clear statutory protections for surveillance that impacts Americans’ privacy rights.”

“Additional protections are of critical importance,” the Senate Judiciary Committee report said. “The rules governing electronic surveillance affect every American and remain the only buffer between the freedom of Americans to make private communications and the ability of the Government to listen in on those communications.”

“In the Committee’s view, the improvements contained in the Senate Intelligence bill do not go far enough in ensuring that Americans’ privacy rights are safeguarded. Additional protections can be added without interfering with the flexibility the Government needs to conduct overseas surveillance.”

See “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2007,” Senate Judiciary Committee, January 22.

0 thoughts on “Amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

  1. Let’s not forget Bush’s 1,000-plus signing statements (which make debate about any proposed legislation academic) and the Cheney-Bush administration’s blatant and unrequited violation of the law when it comes to secrecy and spying on U.S. citizens. Also, it seems that immunity for privacy lawsuits for the telecoms will not be part of any updated FISA package.

    The impotence of the Democrat-controlled Congress is an ever-growing source of frustration and disappointment for those who expected the restoration of habeas corpus and our other rights after the last national election. It seems that when conflicts do occur between the executive and legislative branches, they are power struggles between the two — to which our rights are incidental.

  2. This bill, if passed, would grant immunity to any and all telecommunciations companies who knowingly and illegally facilitated eavesdropping and electronic surveillance of literally millions of Americans over a four or five year period. The federal judge in this matter, Judge Walker, has already declared that there is no way AT and T legal staff could have possibly been under the illusion that this surveillance was legal. To grant retroactive immunity to these companies is to trample upon basic 4th amendment rights guaranteed to all Americans. This Democratically-controlled senate should be ashamed of itself if it permits this bill to go forward.

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