No Cliff for FISA

Congress and President Obama can manage to gather themselves together on certain things. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial post-9/11 Bush-era law, will encounter no artificial congressional cliff on the way to reauthorization. It is uncomfortable to observe that while so much else in Congress is stalemated, this law – allowing warrantless review of email and eavesdropping on communications – passes with ease. None of several proposed amendments was considered in the Senate, under the pressure of “no time for reconsideration” in the House.  

The original FISA law had been expanded under President Bush in 2008.

[…] the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. Jointly written by Dick Cheney and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, it also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly  unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping. (ACLU study)

By a solid vote of 73-23 (the losing side: 21 Democrats, fewer than half the caucus, and 2 Republicans, Lisa Murkowski and Rand Paul), FISA was reauthorized by the Senate. FISA was already approved by the House, and it will be signed by President Obama.

Odd, the things the House, Senate and White House can find common cause on.

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