U.S. Senate Extends Warrantless Wiretapping Under FISA

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The Senate agreed on Friday to approve an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, legislation that allows the NSA and other US intelligence agencies to wiretap conversations involving foreign citizens without obtaining a warrant.

Despite growing opposition to one of the most notorious and secretive US spying programs, the Senate voted 73-23 early Friday to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

First signed into law in 1978, FISA prescribes how the US government collects intelligence from foreign parties that may be detrimental to national security. Of particular significance, however, is the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, or FAA, which includes a provision that puts any US citizen engaged in correspondence with a person overseas at direct risk of being spied on.

Under the FAA, the government can eavesdrop on emails and phone calls made or received by Americans, as long as they reasonably suspect those conversations to include at least one person residing outside of the United States.

In May 2012, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) sent a letter to the National Security Agency asking for an estimate on just how many Americans have been targeted since the FAA went on the books. In response, Inspector General I. Charles McCullough replied that honoring their request would be “beyond the capacity” of the office, and that “dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”

Read the rest here: The Arab American News