The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012, H.R. 5949, a bill that would extend the provisions of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act (FAA) (P.L. 110-261) to December 31, 2017, rather than letting the FAA sunset on December 31, 2012. The FAA permits the National Security Agency to intercept communications with non-citizens abroad without adequate judicial supervision. AALL opposed changes to FISA under the USA PATRIOT Act, which permitted government surveillance in criminal investigations without a showing of probable cause. We have long called for stronger oversight and transparency of government surveillance programs that monitor public communications, and we strongly urge members of the House of Representatives to vote “no” on this bill.
In April 2009, the New York Times reported that the NSA “intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress.” Despite evidence of impropriety, the government has not publicly detailed the extent of the problem or publicly explained what, if anything, it has done to prevent it from recurring.
Before Congress considers legislation to reauthorize the FAA, it should require the government to specify the nature and extent of this illegal surveillance and ensure that illegal surveillance does not recur under the FAA umbrella.
We expect floor debate on H.R. 5949 to begin today, Wednesday September 12. Call your Representative today and urge them to vote “no” on the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization of 2012.