Friday, December 28, 2012

Senate renews NSA’s horrible (and illegal) spying program

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Warrantless wiretapping (cartoon of bald eagle listening in on AT&T calls with earphones)

It appears to be open season on U.S. citizens’ privacy rights this week, as only days after the Senate approved warrantless snooping in people’s personal emails, it’s now renewed the NSA’s horrendously unconstitutional spying program, known as the FISA Amendments Act, after striking down several proposed amendments that would’ve created any trace of oversight:

After three key amendments that would have brought some oversight to the NSA's ongoing spying program were rejected last night, and the final such amendment was rejected this morning, there was little doubt that the Senate would move ahead with renewing FISA in its current and highly problematic form. Immediately following the rejection of the Wyden amendment, that's just what they did, voting 73-23 to extend FISA for another five years.

Of course, there was no doubt that FISA would be renewed – has Congress shown any remote interest in curbing the federal government’s ability to breach the American people’s privacy in the last few decades? – but it would still have been nice if it had done something as simple and obvious as, say, put a system in place to estimate how many U.S. citizens are even being illegally spied on in the first place. But it would seem even that was akin to inviting the terrorizers to bomb America’s email inboxes or something.