Senate Debating Warrantless Domestic Spying Today; Vote Pending

Scott Shackford
Reason Magazine

…The FISA Act allows the government to get secret permission to spy on communications to and from Americans without having to prove probable cause in defiance of the Fourth Amendment.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been on top of the political machinations behind the renewal of the bill, such as the senators – among them Ron Wyden…and Rand Paul – working to change the laws to require warrants to collect private communications from Americans.

Here’s what EFF has to say about Wyden’s actions:

Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the most ardent defenders of civil liberties in the Senate, has been asking the NSA for months for information on how the FISA Amendments Act has impacted Americans.

The NSA has so far refused, yet, as the New York Times reported in 2009, we know the NSA was still intercepting domestic communications in a “significant and systematic” way. We also know the secret FISA court ruled, on at least one occasion, that the government had violated the Fourth Amendment when conducting surveillance under the FAA. Yet the NSA has rather unbelievably claimed releasing the number of Americans whose privacy has been violated would violate those same Americans’ privacy…

…Republican Senator Rand Paul has commendably been one of the few voices unequivocally denouncing the FISA Amendments Act as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. To that end, Sen. Paul will be introducing “the Fourth Amendment Protection Act” which will re-iterate that all US communications, whether sought by US intelligence agencies like the NSA or any government agency, are protected against unwarranted searches and seizures—even if they are held by third party email providers like Google…

Read the entire article at

Related:  In an email today from RandPAC:

Obama is spying on you, and you don’t even know it.

He can read your emails, look at your text messages, and listen to your phone calls – and he doesn’t even need a warrant to do it.

Under President Obama, the surveillance state is expanding at an alarming rate to the point that virtually every man, woman, and child in the country is under government surveillance.

And FISA – which allows warrantless wiretapping and government eavesdropping on American citizens – is vital to the expansion of Obama’s spy-nation.

That is why I have proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act as an amendment to the FISA reauthorization…

…My amendment to FISA extends Fourth Amendment guarantees to electronic communications and requires specific warrants granted through FISA courts in order to obtain this information.

This amendment is VITAL to protect American citizens against unwarranted invasions of privacy by Obama’s surveillance state.

Without this amendment, FISA will give Obama a blank check to spy on any American at any time for any reason…



Update: Senator Mike Lee wrote on his Facebook page:

I delivered this floor speech today to encourage my colleagues to support the bipartisan effort I have been a part of to protect our Fourth Amendment rights in the FISA reauthorization bill.



Unfortunately, however, “The Senate just rejected Fourth Amendment protections for your e-mails and texts…” wrote Senator Paul.


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