I have always held the view that a lot of sneaky stuff happens during the last two weeks of December when people are preoccupied with the holidays. So it was no surprise when ars technica reported on December 28th that Congress had authorized five more years of the warrantless wiretapping of international communications.
The current authorization for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts would have expired on January 1st. And it appears that no one wanted amendments, even sensible ones, for fear of sending the bill back to the House of Representatives. One amendment would have mandated reports to Congress if any completely domestic communications were picked up the NSA wiretaps. That would have been nice to know.
Other amendments would have required a warrant for tapping into e-mail and allowed citizens to read the opinions of the FISA court (now secret). All amendments were shot down. The spectre of terrorist threats is continuously raised while the privacy of American citizens is reduced to a shadow of its former self. I appreciate the terrorist threat but fear that the threat to privacy rights may be even greater.
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