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The Meager Congressional Efforts to Tame Warrantless Surveillance
Posted By John Glaser On December 11, 2012 @ 12:56 pm In News | Comments Disabled
The massive – yet hidden – monstrosity that is the US government’s warrantless surveillance powers are being met with some very limited push-back from a few members of Congress. A few Senators are trying to amend the FISA Amendments Act to make it more transparent, according to Adam Serwer  at Mother Jones.
First, some background from Serwer:
The Republican-dominated House reauthorized the FISA Amendments Act in September with a lot of bombast from defenders who claimed that the law does not allow spying on American citizens . Not true: It states that Americans can’t be targeted, but it permits the government to collect communications between Americans and overseas targets suspected of involvement with terrorism. (The NSA once ended up with former President Bill Clinton’s emails ). Congress retroactively legalized  the Bush administration’s warrantless spying program in 2008, with the support of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who promised to reform the program as president . That hasn’t happened. Civil liberties organizations have tried to challenge the law as unconstitutional , only for the government to argue  that they cannot sue because the program is so secret that the plaintiffs can’t prove it affects them.
For more Antiwar.com perspective, I wrote about such issues here  and here . With regard to the ongoing efforts to get the government to disclose how many Americans have been caught up in the program, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says “it isn’t even ‘reasonably possible’ to estimate  how many Americans are swept up in the NSA’s expansive dragnet.” That’s reassuring.
Here is at least an indication of what that information might look like, though. In September, the ACLU, “after months of litigation,” was provided with some internal documents that showed a dramatic increase in surveillance of Americans :
Here is a sampling from Serwer of the meager congressional efforts to address the surveillance monstrosity brought to you by the FISA Amendments Act:
Article printed from Antiwar.com Blog: http://antiwar.com/blog
URL to article: http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/12/11/the-meager-congressional-efforts-to-tame-warrantless-surveillance/
URLs in this post:
 according to Adam Serwer: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/warrantless-wiretapping-fisa-authorization-reform-bill
 who claimed that the law does not allow spying on American citizens: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/house-fisa-warrantless-wiretapping
 former President Bill Clinton’s emails: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/06/pinwale/
 retroactively legalized: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/07/after-fisa-fight-interview-sen-russ-feingold
 who promised to reform the program as president: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/180/end-warrantless-wiretaps/
 tried to challenge the law as unconstitutional: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/fisa-supreme-court-spying-warrantless-surveillance
 the government to argue: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/amnesty-et-al-v-clapper
 here: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/09/11/obama-admin-urges-congress-to-renew-broad-surveillance-powers/
 here: http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/10/29/in-supreme-court-case-obama-tries-to-block-challenges-to-illegal-surveillance/
 isn’t even ‘reasonably possible’ to estimate: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2011/07/ODNIletter1.pdf
 a dramatic increase in surveillance of Americans: http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/new-justice-department-documents-show-huge-increase
 violate Americans’ privacy to reveal how many Americans have had their communications monitored: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/nsa-spied/
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