With Senators about to pack up and head home for the holidays, we have one last chance to tell them not to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for another 5 years without providing Congress and the public long sought after answers about this dragnet, secret, and unchecked, surveillance program.
Senator Wyden (D-OR) has previously called for a deeper look into warrantless wiretapping authorized by the 2008 FISA Amendments, saying that “the government refuses to say how often the spy powers are being used.”
The National Security Agency (NSA) has refused, despite these demands, to reveal how many Americans it has spied on through effectively unlimited powers granted in the 2008 FISA amendments.
Congress has failed to protect the privacy of email and phone conversations, and is slated to vote on the re-authorization of FISA any day, leaving a limited window to call on Congress to allow for the necessary debate on the NSA's implementation of FISA. We still have many questions, but
the NSA intercepts 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other communications every single day (Washington Post, 7/19/2010)what little we do know is alarming:
- the NSA says it cannot even give a rough estimate of the number of Americans whose communications have been swept up (Wired.com, 6/18/2012)
- the NSA has reportedly overstepped the bounds of this very lax law, intercepting private emails and phone calls of Americans illegally (New York Times, 4/16/2009)
- all those communications are stored on a searchable database, allowing the government to get information on specific Americans without any suspicion that they have committed a crime (Huffington Post, 9/6/2012)
The JUSTICE Act, which would amend FISA to prevent the government from collecting phone calls and emails originating within or directed to the United States, will likely not be reintroduced in the Senate this session, let stand the decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, eroding first Amendment rights. Holder authorized guilt by association, allowing prosecutors to secure terror convictions without establishing—or even alleging—a defendant’s intent to support violence.
With no Senators willing to stand by the JUSTICE Act, and the NSA refusing to answer Senator Wyden's tough questions, we must act now.
Take a moment and contact your Senators and demand they vote against the proposed extension of FISA until the NSA finally answers congressional questions about how many Americans have been impacted by the agency’s admitted violations.