Senate set to approve FISA spying bill

U.S. Senate.(Reuters / Jim Young)

U.S. Senate.(Reuters / Jim Young)

With less than a week until a powerful legislation expires that lets the government eavesdrop on the phone and email conversations of Americans, the Senate has convened in DC to discuss whether or not to renew the FISA Amendment Act.

The 2008 FISA Amendment Act, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of the 1970s, allows the government to wiretap any conversation involving US citizens, without obtaining a warrant, as long as investigators reasonably suspect those talks to involve at least one party located outside of the United States. Despite demands from members of Washington’s intelligence committee, though, very little information if any has been made available about how the government uses the FISA Amendment Act, or FAA, and whom they target.

“Everyone becomes suspect when big brother is listening,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said recently while arguing against renewing the FAA in the House of Representatives.

Despite pleas from Rep. Kucinich and others, the House has agreed to support renewing the FAA, a decision that has met the approval of the Obama White House as well.

Earlier this month, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) even told his colleagues in the Senate that there was no need to debate the bill at all since it had already received the blessing of US President Barack Obama.

Had Sen. Chambliss had his way, the Senate was likely to have skipped debates altogether and approved a renewal of the FAA without any discussion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) urged his peers to do otherwise, though, and insisted that talks be held in Washington immediately in order to tackle the FAA before it expires.

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